Many parents who struggle with early risers wonder whether putting them to bed later will mean they sleep later in the morning. So it is important to investigate how later bedtimes affect sleep.
Kids are early risers.
Children, in general, are early risers. A 6 am wake up is certainly not outside the realm of normal. In general, every child has their ‘sweet spot’, a time they are naturally inclined to wake up. As an example, my almost 6-year-old will wake at 7 am but my 4-year-old is more inclined to wake at 6:30 am. That is just them.
How later bedtimes affect sleep.
If we keep our children up later at night in the hope that they sleep in longer in the mornings what we are more likely to do is just decrease the amount of sleep they get in general. Keeping a baby or toddler up later at night will likely make them overtired and then they catch a second wind. That second wind makes it harder for them to fall asleep and get back to sleep if they wake in the early hours of the morning. In general, you’ll have better luck getting them to sleep longer if you shifted their bedtime earlier, not later. With adequate sleep in the first half of the night, they are much more able to self soothe at any brief awakenings in the early morning hours. After all, sleep begets sleep. We’ve all heard that saying, right?
If your child wakes up way too early.
If your child is having early wake-ups that are not within the realm of normal, a later bedtime will definitely not help. Early wake-ups are general to do with overtiredness, so giving them an earlier bedtime will help make up for the sleep they have lost, will get them better rested and able to sleep longer in the mornings.
Other things to consider about later bedtimes.
Later bedtimes, in general, stop your child from getting as much deep restorative sleep in the first half of the night and unfortunately this sleep is not made up for in the early morning hours as children sleep lighter then. Even a daytime nap won’t make up for it.
If you want to determine the best bedtime for your child, look at their behavior in the late afternoon. Bedtime for a child up to the age of 8 is generally between 6pm and 8 pm. Picking the right time will be dependent on if they nap, the quality of naps and their behavior in general. Bedtimes are often somewhat of a moving target.