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Is a 7pm bedtime the holy grail of infant sleep?

(59 Posts)
FatLittleWombat Wed 22-Mar-17 06:24:10

I put DS2 to bed at 7 pm, he wakes multiple times at night but is usually still asleep when my alarm goes at 7.30am. My MIL thinks I'm bonkers to put him to bed so early and that he'd sleep better if I put him to bed at 9 pm or so. While I'm sure he doesn't wake at night because he isn't tired, I do wonder why so many British and American books on infant sleep insist on an early bedtime. Is there research to back up the theory that it improves sleep? I can't believe that all babies in countries where late bedtimes are the norm sleep badly!

PetalMettle Wed 22-Mar-17 06:27:57

We start bedtime fts about 8 or 815 so he's usually asleep by 9 It's normally 6 when I get him home, then he has a bf and then I cook and so we don't eat until 7 so I couldn't really do it any earlier

mimiholls Wed 22-Mar-17 07:49:46

How old is your ds? Babies/young children need 11 or 12 hours sleep at night which is why an early bedtime is recommended. If he's tired at 7 and still asleep by morning, even if waking to feed, he obviously needs it and the benefit is you get a nice evening to yourselves.

beargrass Wed 22-Mar-17 07:54:43

Ive heard this explained by the fact that after 7, their cortisol (stress) hormones begin to rise, disrupting melatonin levels. Although I've heard 7pm, I suspect if you start the day at 8am, then 8pm would be the logical bedtime

Cakescakescakes Wed 22-Mar-17 07:55:17

In my experience putting babies to bed later just means they wake at the same time in the morning and have had less overall sleep. Doesnt work at all. Both mine had a night feed until about 11/12 months too.

Tastesjustlikecherrycola85 Wed 22-Mar-17 07:58:00

I generally find mine get up at the same time each morning even if they go to bed later than normal sometimes

Stillwishihadabs Wed 22-Mar-17 08:03:33

I think it is cultural, a later bedtime means keeping the long afternoon nap for longer- which is the norm in France/Italy/Spain and parts of the US I think. However in the cold, rainy, dark UK a long siesta in the winter months just means less exposure to day light and being stuck indoors for more of the child's awake time.

dementedpixie Wed 22-Mar-17 08:05:47

I don't think mine ever went to bed at 7pm. The earliest was probably 8pm. As they get older it gets later so we are now at 9pm (ds age 10) and 9.30pm (Dd age 13). They can read for 30 minutes after that too.

Brokenbiscuit Wed 22-Mar-17 08:06:08

I think the insistence on early bedtimes has more to do with parental preference than the needs of the child.

exexpat Wed 22-Mar-17 08:08:30

I'm not a morning person and would hate to be up at 5 or 6am every day; DH used to work long hours, and was very rarely home before 7 or 8pm, so our DCs were normally in bed at around 9pm as babies. That was also the norm where we were living at the time. It meant they tended to wake around 7-8am, and also took daytime naps until they were three or four.

beargrass Wed 22-Mar-17 08:09:46

This isn't who I saw give a talk, but this is an overall explanation of the hormonal side covering three ages:

enchantmentandlove Wed 22-Mar-17 08:11:54

I think it depends on the age of the child.

My dd is only 9 months, and between 7 and 7:30 is definitely the best bedtime for her. Even if she ends up having a later bedtime, she will still wake up between 6 and 7am, the only difference is she will still be tired and grouchy.

As a pp has said, I have also heard that their stress levels rise if they go to bed later than 9 (not sure how true that is).

I think the most important thing is to adapt if the bedtime stops working. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

ClemDanfango Wed 22-Mar-17 08:14:23

My 10 month old just will not go down at 7pm I've tried! 8.30 is the earliest she'll go but it's closer to 9 most nights, she wakes twice for feeds and gets up for the day at 7.30 am she seems happy and she's healthy so I've just being going along with it, much to my mothers incredulity who insists she must be put down and left to settle herself at 7pm or she will stop growing confused

Ecureuil Wed 22-Mar-17 08:14:57

I dunno, we do it so a) we have an evening to ourselves and b) so that they've had sufficient sleep when we need to get up at 7am. No other reason really. If we didn't have to get up at a particular time maybe we'd be more relaxed about bedtime.

CremeEggThief Wed 22-Mar-17 08:16:39

I was lucky with my DS when he was little, as he slept 11 or 12 hours from whenever he went to bed AND had a 2 hours nap every day until he was 3.5. So he rarely started the day before 8 a.m. It more than made up for his first 3 months, when he refused to sleep before 2 a.m. at the very earliest. As a night owl myself, I would prefer to end the day at 2 or 3 a.m. than start it before 7 a.m. The people I always feel most sorry for are parents of early risers.

JumpSturdy Wed 22-Mar-17 08:46:34

Hmmm. We used to take DD to bed with us in the early days because she slept when she damn well wanted and had no respect for our idea of "nighttime". She actually started sleeping through pretty early, but I kept bringing her to bed when we went because this seemed to work. Lately (six months now) I've been taking her up about 8.30 as this is when she seems tired. She often has a catnap at about 6, so I don't fancy my chances of getting her off earlier yet.

Emma2803 Wed 22-Mar-17 09:38:30

My ds is just about to turn two and bedtime has always been 8pm (or maybe up to 8.15/8.30) in our house since he was small. 7 would be too early as I would barely have the dinner finished! He sleeps until 6.30-7am and will usually lie in his cot playing for half an hour or so and he also sleeps for 2 hours every day. It works for us! Will probably bring bedtime forward when he drops his sleep during the day.

booellesmum Wed 22-Mar-17 09:47:27

I think it depends on the child.
DD1 never really slept before 10.30 until she started school and then it was around 9.00 until KS2 when it slowly went to 9.30/10.00.
DD2 would actively ask to go to bed at about 8.00 and still says bedtime is her favourite part of the day when she lies down all comfy with a book
I am a go with the flow kind of person.

FatLittleWombat Wed 22-Mar-17 13:17:11

beargrass that's interesting about the cortisol levels. Do they depend on daylight though? Because another thing I find odd about the recommended 7pm bedtime is that it is supposed to be the same in winter and summer, even though daylight levels are completely different.

stillwishihadabs it's definitely a cultural thing. I have an Italian friend who told me it's unusual for Italian children to go to bed before 9 pm. I wonder if there are early risers in the countries that put their children to bed later?

beargrass Wed 22-Mar-17 13:33:37

OP I don't know! But now it's getting lighter, I am closing all the upstairs curtains around bath time so it seems darker! I have been thinking about this a fair bit since your thread. I bet if we lived in Greece, for example, it would all be different because of the extra sunlight and effect it has on your body clock. When I'm on holiday, I don't feel the need for as much sleep, although the heat makes me want an afternoon nap. So perhaps the advice about 7pm really is more for this country/similar.

ItsNachoCheese Wed 22-Mar-17 13:37:14

My ds is just about 2 and he goes to bed around 7ish most nights. Earlier if hes not had a sleep during the day or can be later if hes had a sleep but its been later in the afternoon. I like him going to bed at 7ish as it gives me a chance to unwind and catch up on everything before bed

Gillian1980 Wed 22-Mar-17 13:49:02

If I put my dd to bed later in the evening she is overtired and can't settle. Her bedtime has changed at various points as her naps have changed etc.

If he goes to sleep without too much fuss then he's probably going to bed at the right time. Waking through the night in very common and may be totally unrelated to bedtime - hunger, inability to self settle between sleep cycles...

FatLittleWombat Wed 22-Mar-17 14:05:51

So perhaps the advice about 7pm really is more for this country/similar.
The confusing thing is that the books seem to say an early bedtime is ideal for all babies everywhere, they never specify if it depends on where you live. not over thinking this at all
DS2 goes to sleep without a murmur within 10 minutes, so his bedtime is definitely right at the moment. And he doesn't wake early either. My MIL thinks the early bedtime is very restrictive for me, but tbh I prefer an early evening to an endless lunchtime nap.

tinypop4 Wed 22-Mar-17 14:09:07

Mine would crash out at 6.30-7 whether I liked it not so I worked with this bedtime. I used to live in Asia amongst an expat community though, and both locals and pretty much everyone else put their dc to bed between 9-10. Their children would simply take naps until 5 or 6 years old instead of 2 or 3 as is the norm here. It sounds like your dc might not be a natural early bird if he's still asleep st 7.30am so I might try a later bedtime in your case if he's not too tired by 7. Maybe try 8.30

beargrass Wed 22-Mar-17 16:44:30

OP - you're right. I'd never really thought about the fact the books are seemingly aimed everywhere, just assumed others places do things differently! I'm sure if you live somewhere with more daylight and heat, it'll be different, it has to be because the environment definitely plays a part. Mine would sleep later in the morning but us getting ready wakes her up. I know this because she sleeps later at weekends when we don't exactly rush to have a shower at 6:30!

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