The best bedtimes for children based on age

October 27, 2020 4 mins read
The best bedtimes for children based on age

As parents, we often make things up as we go along when raising children, but when it comes to things like how much exercise they need, what foods they eat, and the best bedtimes for children, it is best to do a bit of research.

So, what time should your child go to bed based on their age? Keep reading to find out.

Why are set bedtimes important for children?

Set bedtimes are important to help regulate children’s sleep-wake cycles (circadian rhythm). By sticking to regular bedtimes, their body will start to prepare for sleep at similar times every day.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced during sleep, which is one of the reasons why children need more sleep than adults. HGH is sometimes referred to as the youth hormone. Babies, toddlers and older children need to grow at a very fast rate, and so, they need a lot of HGH and a lot of sleep.

With a regular bedtime, your child’s sleep quality will improve. It can help manage sleep problems like sleep anxiety in children and the “I have to try to get my child to go to bed” anxiety in parents. It will become easier and easier to get your child to go to sleep at night if you keep putting them to bed at the same time.

But remember, flexibility is as important as routine. Bedtime very seldom runs like clockwork. Don’t expect your child to fall asleep at the exact time you want to, but it is still best to aim for a set bedtime every night.

Recommended bedtimes for children

Time to set the mental or actual alarm clock. Here are the bedtimes that will allow your child to get the recommended hours of sleep every night. We’ve based our recommendations on a wake-up time between 6am, and 7:30am, but you can also use a sleep calculator to establish the ideal bedtime based on when you want your child to wake up.

Babies: 0-3 years old

Babies have very different sleep patterns to toddlers and older children, as well as shorter sleep cycles. Babies will only really start to get into a more regular sleeping pattern after one month.

You will start to notice your baby’s patterns throughout the day and when they get sleepy at night. Once you have established a pattern, you can start aiming for a regular bedtime.

Toddlers: 3-5 years old

Toddlers should get between 10 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle, which makes the ideal bedtime between 6pm and 8:30pm. If your child takes a nap in the middle of the day, then set their bedtime closer to 8:30pm.

Young children: 6-13 years old

The ideal bedtime for children of this age is between 7pm and 10pm. That is because children between 6 and 13 years old need 9-11 hours of sleep every night. This should be early enough to allow them to get enough rest.

A good memory heavily relies on getting proper sleep. Getting enough sleep helps young children with their physical growth and improves their focus in class, moods and energy levels throughout the day.

Teenagers: 14-17 years old

When your child becomes a teenager, they will need less sleep. However, sleep is still very important for hormonal regulation (especially at this crucial time of hormonal development) and brain development. The brain still develops until 25 years old. Teenagers need more sleep to assist the body with this process.

Since teenagers need 8-9 hours of sleep a night, going to bed between 8pm and 11pm is recommended. By this age, it can be hard for you, as a parent, to enforce a strict bedtime, but talk to your teenager about how getting more sleep will help them be physically healthier and perform better in school.

How to maintain a good bedtime routine for your kids

Consistency is key when it comes to bedtime. Your child might resist the parentally-enforced bedtime at first, but over time, they will adjust.

Your child will start to feel tired at a similar time each day if you keep putting them to bed at the same time.

If they struggle to fall asleep, you can try various natural remedies to help your children sleep. Things you can do include:

  • Encouraging them to get some exercise during the day
  • Limiting digital screens before bed
  • Using a lavender pillow spray
  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment
  • Giving them a healthy diet filled with foods that promote sleep

You no longer have to play the guessing game when your child needs to go to bed. If you know how much sleep they need according to their age and what time you would like them to get up in the morning, you can easily determine the best bedtimes for your children based on age.