Make Bedtime Early for Your Child

I recently had a dad tell me that he likes to keep his 4 year old son up to watch movies with him on the weekend until 11 or 12 PM.

A store employee told me about her frustration with parents in the store at 9 PM with children who are crying or running up and down the aisles yelling.

blog11Should a child who is older than 4 months have the same bedtime as the adult?      No

Each child needs their own bedtime from the age of 4 months. Children require more sleep than adults do. The growing body and brain need more hours of sleep for all the learning and development to happen.

At four months children are going to need about 14 hours of sleep per day. Three to five-year old children need 11 to 13 hours of sleep. School-age children continue to need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.

The early bedtime allows a child will receive the correct amount of sleep their body needs. A well-rested child is able to  learn and retain that learning.  Lack of sleep makes it difficult for a child to control their behavior, impulses and emotions. Sleep deprivation leads to behavior problems.


The sleep clock of a child is biologically set for an early bedtime. Sleep that is in sync with the body clock will restore and reset the body and brain. A consistent bedtime supports the body clock. The child will feel tired at bedtime and anticipate sleep. When you follow a regular routine and time for sleep the child will want to sleep rather than fighting it

Late bedtime leads to high Cortisol levels.

A late bedtime misses the body clock time when the body was preparing for sleep. The body temperature drops and chemical changes happen in the body at the correct time to sleep. If sleep does not happen when the body was preparing, the body responds by releasing Cortisol. Cortisol is a stimulant and wakes the child up.  Cortisol in an overtired child looks like they “received a second wind”. They become “hyper” and tend to run around and act out of control. The child will misbehave, whine, and be irritable. Children are prone to injury because their skills and judgement are impaired while in that overtired state. Research shows lack of adequate sleep “has been associated with increased levels of impulsivity, peer victimization, and social inhibition in kindergarten children. ” The high level of cortisol makes sleep difficult for the child. Cortisol stimulants the child to stay active and moving, the opposite of going to sleep.  It will cause the child to  wake up frequently during the night and  wake early in the morning. The elevated cortisol level interferes with sleep at every stage of the sleep process.

A chronically overtired child has a chronic high cortisol level. Depending on the extent of the over tiredness, it may take days or weeks to correct their lack of sleep. This chronic condition leads to behavior problems, learning difficulties and  various health issues. Adequate sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

I worked with one family with a two year old going to bed at 10 PM, waking many times during the night and refusing naps. It was challenging to talk with the parents because the child was running, jumping on furniture and making a lot of noise. I coached the parents to help their son get the sleep he desperately needed. When I returned to their house a few weeks later he seemed like a different child. This time the only interruptions were hugs from him while I was talking with his parents. Their little guy was enjoyable to be around. Correct sleep turned him into an amazing little boy.

An early bedtime leads to a happier, well-rested child.

The solution is to chose a bedtime according to the child’s age and make that bedtime consistent and a priority in your life.

Helping Babies Sleep

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

Infant Tummy Massage to Relieve Gas

To see the complete massage instructional video:


Alix Kron
Alix Kron
2 weeks ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
a year ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Amanda C
Amanda C
3 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.