Keeping children up later so that they will sleep better and longer does not work! In fact, the opposite is true: earlier bedtimes help children set healthy sleep patterns and ensure that children get adequate hours of sleep.
If your child wakes early in the morning, is constantly tired, or is overly emotional during the day, try putting them to bed one-half hour earlier than they are currently going to bed.
Try this for a few nights. If your child is STILL waking too early or is still tired during the day, then put them to bed another half an hour earlier.
My pediatrician recommend doing the exact opposite: Try moving her bedtime earlier, by half hour increments, until I found the time that her body needed to go to sleep. So over the course of about a month, I went from putting her to bed at 10 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to 9 p.m...all the way to 6:30 p.m! Yes, I put my 4 year old to bed at 6:30 p.m! And she started sleeping until 6:30 a.m. every morning! She was happier, less emotional and she was finally getting the sleep patterns and cycles that she needed for a full night's sleep!!
Tips for using this strategy:
1. Set an early, consistent bedtime, starting by going one half hour earlier than your child's current bedtime.
2. Choose a time that fits your families’ schedule, but earlier really is better.
3. If you set up sleep cues such as a consistent bedtime and pre-bed routines, then your child’s body will naturally follow those cues and fall into a sleep pattern (such as bath, story, brushing teeth, etc).
4. You can use this tip for any age child, from newborn to teenager!
Here's a handy guide to use when trying to decide if your child is getting enough sleep, or what time they should be going to bed:
If your child still takes naps during the day, then set a nap-time and stick to it as much as possible. Late afternoon naps hurt your child's ability to go to sleep on time.
Based on an idea from:
Desiree, Nevada, 2 Children