I have had a few conversations lately with friends of mine who don't have set bed times for their children, and have been, not unkindly, poking fun at us for insisting that we have George home and ready for bed at a certain hour. I just thought I'd quickly share an on going experience we are having that has riveted us to having a bed time for our little Bun.
We just moved across state
borders, which was both hectic and fun. In CA our 1 year old had weened
himself to one nap a day. For the life of me I just couldn't get him to
take another one until about 4:30 or 5, which meant, for him, he
wouldn't go back to sleep until about 11. He just has a lot of energy I
guess! With one nap a day that put him going to bed at 6 or 6:30. He
loved it, and we loved it. (Let's be honest, though it wasn't our reason
for letting him go to bed that early, it was SO nice to have time
together as a couple.)
People have often lamented our social life -- we
don't go out a lot because we're at home with a sleeping babe. It hasn't
really bothered us that much to be honest, and here is why. We moved the weekend of the day light savings time change, and also
changed a times zone. We effectively lost two hours. I'll review our
last months sleep schedule for you: George's waking time varied from
5-7:30, he took sporadic and short naps (20-30 minutes, not nearly long enough for him),
he wouldn't fall asleep at night, despite his lack of daytime sleep,
until about 9:30-10:30 on average, and sometimes as late as midnight.
My son went from being a bright and happy toddler to being a cranky mess. Morale was low in our house.
George just does not have the emotional and mental energy he needs to
thrive when he doesn't have enough sleep. Keeping up my social life
wouldn't really mean that much to me if it meant skimping on his sleep
hours because I'd be too exhausted from his crankiness to really enjoy
being places with friends, not to mention having him all cranky while we
are with friends sort of defeats the purpose for me as well. Life is much better in our household when he gets a long nap in the day, and then goes to bed at his earlier hour of choosing.
For the science behind it, a baby needs much more sleep than an
adult, most needing 14-16 hours, or more depending on the age and
individual child, including their daytime sleep (see The No Cry Sleep
Solution by Elizabeth Pantley for a great discussion on the science
behind baby sleep patterns). As we have been experiencing, a child who
is sleep deprived will have a harder time getting the amount, and
quality of sleep their growing minds and bodies need. Consider all of
the development small children are going through, and it just seems to
Two nights ago, for the first times since we've moved, George had a good nights sleep, and a fantastic nap in the day time. I am hooked! He was so much happier than he has been in a long long time, and that makes me so much happier. He even sat and sang to himself in his car seat when we had a lot of driving to do that day -- he hates his car seat, so that was a miracle! In our house a well
rested child means a happier and less stressful day for the entire family.
What are your thoughts on your child's/children's sleep patterns?