Lax Bedtimes Can Mean Lower Brain Power for Kids

Mrs. Jack Wright reads her two sons Ralph and David a bed-time story / À l'heure du coucher Mme Jack Wright lit une histoire à ses deux fils, Ralph et DavidGetting children to bed can take a lot of hard work at times. While it may be easier to just let your child go to bed when they want, it is better for their brains and overall health to stick with a schedule, even on the weekends.

One U.K. study observed 11,000 seven-year olds and how their sleep patterns affected their brain power. The study found that those who didn’t have a regular bedtime or went to bed later than 9:00 pm had lower reading and math test scores. The children also had lowered spatial awareness.

Lack of sleep can disrupt how children learn. Research has found that it is when a child enters deep sleep that their brains begin to learn. Poor sleep schedules can also affect how a child sleeps. When a child becomes overly tired, the stress hormone cortisol is released, making deep sleep harder to come by. If a child is constantly waking up and never progressing past a REM stage, then they are not getting a deep enough sleep that is beneficial for their health or brains.

It all boils down to having a good bedtime routine for children, and it is not too late to try. Here are a few things you can do to help your kids sleep better and stick with a bedtime routine:

  1. Make Their Rooms Relaxing: Remove the television and distracting toys. Also, if their room is cluttered, try taking out as much stuff as possible. Keep their rooms simple but comfortable for sleeping. A fan helps circulate air, while an air purifier adds white noise. Look for a sound machine that plays calming music or ocean sounds and you can also put a picture on the ceiling. This helps children to focus on the ceiling and fall asleep. This also helps eliminate nighttime fears. If your baby or child hears the same song/sound every night, then they will start associating it with bedtime.
  2. Gradually Bring Back a Normal Bedtime Hour: If your children usually clonk out around 9 or 10, try moving their bedtimes up gradually. Just move it up a half an hour each night until it is at a good spot. This may mean starting the bedtime routine earlier and cutting out any extra TV time or playtime after dinner.
  3. Keep Bedtime the Same: A set bedtime will be beneficial for your child all year round. This means to keep the bedtime even on the weekends and during the summer. This may mean having to give up certain activities at night, but you will find your child is in a better mood overall when they get the sleep they need.
  4. The Four B’s: A half and hour to an hour before bedtime, start the routine of the four Bs. This includes bath, brushing the teeth, books, and bed. Taking 15-20 minutes to read and snuggle with your kids each night can eliminate the time spend fighting with your kids to go to bed.
  5. Make Your Child Feel Like They Are in Charge of Bedtime: Many times bedtime becomes a fight when the child feels like it is something he has to do and that he doesn’t have any say in it. You can help your child look forward to the bedtime routine by giving them options, like, “Would you rather skip to the bathtub or crawl”? “Would you rather read two books or three?” Let your kids pick out which pajamas they want and what books they want, so that they feel more in on the decision.

Getting children to sleep on a regular basis can be difficult, but it is highly beneficial for their growing bodies and brains.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Story Credit 1, 2, Image Credit:Mrs. Jack Wright reads her two sons by Library Archives Canada. Used under a Creative Commons license.