Getting a preschooler to bed during the summer can be a difficult task. Often times they can still see the sunlight peeking through their bedroom window and simply don’t want to go to sleep. However, a new study has found that early bedtimes for kids now, may be linked to lower obesity risk later on.
In fact, researchers at The Ohio State University College of Public Health discovered that children who went to bed just one hour later were at greater risk for being obese teenagers. The researchers did emphasize that the two things were correlated and they could not prove causality. But they did say the findings were more than coincidental.
“This does give added reason to try and enforce a healthy bedtime habit with your children,” says Dr. Kristin Drynan, a family medicine physician for Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “Sleep is often the foundation for many health related initiatives. If getting your child ready for bed earlier means they have a greater chance for a healthier life later, it is worth the extra work of getting them to sleep.”
Of course, no two families are the same, and extenuating circumstances can always factor in to getting a child to bed. For example, if one parent works late, bedtime may be later so the parent can see the child before he or she goes to sleep.
“Although this is a very limited study it brings up a great point regarding routine bed times and getting enough sleep, which is especially important in a developing body and brain of a young child,” says Dr. Drynan. “Routines are helpful for children, they know what to expect and the more you do them, the easier they are to accomplish. Start small, if the bedtime currently is too late, try and start the bedtime routine earlier, by even 15 minutes a week, until you get it where you need it to be.”
No matter the time of year for getting a preschooler to sleep, they are likely to give you a little difficulty. However, a little extra effort now, could have a big health benefit later in life.