What Time Should Your Child Go To Bed?

Bedtimes. They are, and forever will be, a bone of contention for parents and kids. But what is an appropriate time to send the kids off to bed?

Back in 2015 Wilson Elementary School in Wisconsin posted a “helpful” chart on how much sleep a child should get, charting the time kids of a certain age should be going to bed relevant to the time they wake up. The post went viral and has been doing the rounds of social media ever since with plenty of debate, both for and against the idea of set bedtimes and the suggested time for kids to hit the hay.

Suggested bedtimes

For example, a five year old who bounces out of bed for school at 6.30am, should be in bed by 7.15pm, according to the chart. Some parents will agree that their child definitely needs this amount of sleep. Others will wonder how on earth they would fit everything in that needs to be done before bedtime rolls around. Take into account working hours, after-school activities, dinner, homework, bath and whoops, it’s already past the suggested bedtime and you haven’t even had a full conversation with your child today!

Here’s the chart:

Whether or not you agree with the chart, it definitely sparked debate around how much sleep kids actually need.

For some, the bedtimes back up their own philosophy regarding their child’s bedtime:

For others, the suggestions seem unachievable:

Are you getting your eight hours?

As parents will appreciate, there really is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the amount of sleep kids need. Just like adults, every kid’s needs for sleep will differ. Some adults can function perfectly well with just four or five hours sleep each night – though they would be in the minority and it is not recommended for wellbeing. The common thread is that every adult needs a good eight hours sleep each night. Not that many parents will be achieving that – especially if there are little ones in the home who care not for charts and schedules!

Sleep is vital for growing kids

For kids however, with developing brains and bodies, a good amount of sleep is vital. If the kids are falling asleep in class, grumpy and irritable in the late afternoon or evening, finding it difficult to focus on homework or generally sluggish, it may be time to reassess bedtimes. Even just changing routines can have an affect on the amount of sleep your child gets. For instance, rather than getting ‘wired’ playing on the iPad before bed and then laying awake for a long period of time – reading in bed or listening to quiet music may send them off to the land of nod a lot quicker.

How much sleep do kids need?

As a guide, the Sleepfoundation.org recommend that babies and children require this much sleep each day/night:

  • Newborns – 14-17 hours
  • Babies under 12 months – 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years old) – 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old) – 10-13 hours
  • Primary school kids – 9-11 hours
  • College kids – 8-10 hours

In 2013 a study published in Pediatrics looked at the sleep habits of over 10,000 children in the UK. It concluded that, based on anecdotal evidence from mothers and teachers, “having regular bedtimes during early childhood is an important influence on children’s behavior.”

What do you think of the chart? Do you agree with the suggested times? Are they achievable for your family?

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her world julieWritten by Julie Scanlon

Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”

7 Comments

  1. dawnblyth 05/05/2019 at 11:50 pm

    We try our best to get early.night’s here. Some night’s are easier when there is no sport on

  2. SarahBlair 03/05/2019 at 8:13 pm

    The chat says that my kids should be going to bed later than they do because of the time that they wake up, I don’t think that I will be changing their bedtime though, I think that 8:00 is late enough for a 5 year old and 7 year old.

  3. Shorrty4life1 15/04/2019 at 12:00 pm

    For my children they sleep in really well so it says around 8pm 8.15 bedtime. They are normally in bed at this time on a school night but not normally asleep at this time. I feel like they are and have been achievable for my family. My children love their sleep so they will sleep well and have that 9-11hrs of sleep time. Other family members kids can be a little more challenging getting up at 5am etc

  4. Mands1980 12/04/2019 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t agree with the times in the chart I guess all children are different but my children need lots of sleep otherwise they are so grumpy. It works for my 8 year old but not our 10-11 year olds they are in bed earlier and up later than the chart says. I think it depends on how active the child is too.

  5. Bevik1971 11/04/2019 at 12:21 pm

    Our 6 year old generally gets up between 7.00 and 7.30am every morning (sometimes 6.30am and usually in the weekends haha). We put her to bed fairly early (between 6.30-7.00pm) as she doesn’t just drift off to sleep straight away. She’s usually asleep by 8.00pm though and is getting 10-11 hours a night and she definitely needs it!!

  6. Micht 10/04/2019 at 10:38 pm

    I dont quite agree with the set times for bedtime thing cos it means that your whole family is not able to be flexible and available to do what you need to…bedtimes within reason should have some freedom.

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