Getting your kids to go to bed at all — let alone at a decent hour! — is a challenge that every parent deals with pretty much from birth. But now, despite the inherent challenges of bedtime, a new study out confirms what parents already know: Putting your kids to sleep early is not only good for them, but also for mom’s mental health.
The “Growing Up in Australia” study began tracking Australian families with young children starting in 2004 and followed up every two years. When the study began, the children were preschool age; by the time it finished, they were approximately 9 years old. After compiling the data and taking account of the children’s lifestyles, the children who went to bed earlier had “better health-related quality of life” compared to the other kids, while their mothers had improved mental health, according to the report by Today.
While the term “early” may seem vague, Jon Quach, who is the lead author of the study and also a research fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, states that “early” in this study means asleep by 8:30 p.m.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle-based pediatrician, explained that children’s melatonin levels (the hormone that helps you relax and get sleepy) peaks around 8 p.m., so it makes sense to get them down soon after that time. And if they go to sleep early, then it’s only natural that mom could follow soon after.
“When we think about mom, it makes a lot of sense to me that if kids are early to bed, mom is going to wind down, get things done, and feel like things are under control,” she told Today.
One of the biggest hindrances to children getting a sufficient amounts of sleep is screen time; the blue light emitted by electronic devices can keep kids up longer. Swanson recommends cutting off screen access by 7 p.m., giving kids an hour to wind down. More sleep for kids means more sleep for mom — and we know that everyone functions better when they’re well rested!