A little one’s pre-bedtime plea for just one more storybook or game of Go Fish may be difficult to resist, but it’s best to stay consistent about bedtimes. Not only is sufficient sleep important for your child’s mental development, it could also help her maintain a healthy weight later in life.
New research shows that preschoolers who are put to bed before 8 PM have a slimmer chance of becoming obese during their teen years compared to young kids who are tucked in later at night. In fact, children who go to bed after 9 PM are twice as likely to gain excess weight come high school.
Those extra pounds can have serious side effects: Childhood obesity ups the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. Considering that 17 percent of kids and adolescents are obese, it’s never too early to adopt healthy-weight habits, including early bedtimes.
Sticking to early bedtimes will also help ensure that your tot gets the recommended 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night, a number that’s hard to achieve without turning in on the earlier side.
To encourage a tantrum-free transition to bed, try creating an evening routine. Make sure that the television and all tech devices are powered down an hour before bedtime, since the blue light that the devices emit can be stimulating—not what you want before your tot hits the sack! Then, run through the same quiet, low-key activities every night, such as giving your preschooler a bath and singing lullabies together. The soothing activities will help your child wind down after a busy day, and the consistency of a familiar routine will relax your youngster, improving the odds for a successful night’s sleep for the entire family.