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Health Benefits Of An Early Bedtime For Kids

Dorathy Gass

‘Back to school’ means back to routine, as many parents all across North America struggle to get their children back on a sleep schedule. While some kids are harder to get to bed then others, a new study reveals that an early bedtime is the best way to go, to ensure your kiddos get the sleep they need. In fact, the study suggests that a later bed time can increase your child’s risk of obesity, later in life – as well as a slew of other health concerns.

The study, conducted by Sarah Anderson, Ohio State University’s College of Public Health and her team, reviewed data from almost 1,000 youngsters that were associated with Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The data provided information on children from about four and a half years of age to 15, and tracked their bedtimes, weight, body index mass (BMI), as well as height.

Upon reviewing the numbers, the study team determined that only ten percent of the kids who went to sleep at 8 o’clock in the evening or earlier, while during their preschool ages, ended up being obese teenagers. Alternatively, numbers revealed that 23 percent of the kids in this same ages group who got shut-eye after 9 p.m., were obese during their teen years. For those kiddos whose bedtime was between 8 and 9 p.m.; well only 16 percent were obese teens.

Anderson, lead author, notes that those preschool children with early bedtimes throughout the week were less likely, versus the children who went to bed later, to be obese as teens. She goes on to note that this continued to ring true, even when other factors that that increase the obesity risk were taken into account.

But how can early childhood bedtimes relate to obesity and other health concerns in the future? Anderson states that an earlier bedtime indicates that a child is more likely to get the adequate sleep they need. She goes on to state that not getting the sleep a child needs can also affect appetite-controlling hormones and a child’s metabolism. Anderson also notes that staying later up opens the door for more snacking as well.

But how much sleep is enough sleep? Based on your schedule, you can determine the time you need to get your kids to bed, in order to make it to daycare, school, and work the next morning.

CNN reported that this past June, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released an updated version of their sleep guidelines, and how much sleep a child at different stages of their life requires.

Infants aged four to 12 months require 12 to 16 hours of sleep (naps included).

Children ages one to two years old require 11 to 14 hours of sleep (naps included).

Children ages three to five years old require 10 to 13 hours of sleep (naps included, although some children in this age bracket may drop their nap at this point).

Children six to 12 years old require nine to 12 hours.

Teens 13 to 18 years old require 10 hours.

The general rule of thumb is that babies should be in bed by seven o’clock; toddlers 7:30 p.m.; younger kids eight o’clock in the evening; preteens by 8:30 p.m.; and teenagers can hit the sack by about nine to 10 o’clock at night. It’s important to note, that everyone family’s schedules are different, and these times are purely a suggestion to work around.

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