4 Consequences of a Late Bedtime for Children

Making sure your children get enough sleep is really important for their overall development. Good quality sleep is as important as good nutrition.
4 Consequences of a Late Bedtime for Children
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 30 May, 2022

Having a late bedtime each night isn’t great for your child, as it has a negative influence on their overall development. So, it’s important to remember that good quality sleep is as important as nutrition.

Although this may seem obvious, many parents and carers don’t give this a second thought, for various reasons. However, it’s clear that our modern ways of living have had an impact on this situation.

With parents that are so busy with work, children’s timetables filled with school activities, and excessive use of electronic devices, the time we spend resting has reduced.

The most worrying thing is that many people are unaware of the consequences a late bedtime has on a child. Although skipping naps or going to bed late seems harmless, in reality, these things actually have negative effects that can last a lifetime.

Why is this so bad? What can you do to change it? Below, we explain the major risks and give you some tips to help you correct this situation.

Why is it important for a child to sleep well?

child sleeping peacefully

A good rest, with necessary hours according to the child’s age, is one of the best ways to boost energy. Sleeping recharges the brain’s “battery” for optimal mental performance throughout the day. After sleeping well, the child’s mind will be alert and calm.

Additionally, sleep also affects physical abilities, according to different investigations. When we rest, our muscles release the day’s stresses, recuperate, and prepare for the next day. This, of course, is key for school, sports, and games.

What does healthy sleep mean?

Healthy sleep doesn’t just consist of putting your child to bed early. Appropriate rest has the following characteristics:

  • Enough sleep
  • Uninterrupted sleep
  • Taking enough naps according to age
  • A sleep schedule that’s in sync with the child’s circadian rhythms of the child (internal biological clock)

If a child’s sleeping pattern doesn’t meet the characteristics we mention above, it may trigger sleep deprivation symptoms. The good news is that there are several habits that can help keep them on track.

Consequences of a late bedtime for children

One of the hardest things for parents is getting their children to go to bed early so they can get enough sleep. With so many distractions today, children just don’t want to go to bed.

But, not addressing this issue could harm their development and growth. Although it may seem irrelevant, a poor night’s sleep may be the cause of many future problems.

1. Concentration difficulties after a late bedtime

distracted child

Poor quality sleep has negative effects on the child’s mental health. Not sleeping enough makes the child less mentally alert and unable to concentrate on their activities.

In fact, a bad night’s sleep is a cause of attention deficit at school, according to several studies. Also, this can make the child less active and lazier.

See also: Pay Attention: These Traits Could Indicate that Your Child Has Learning Difficulties

2. Sleepiness

A late bedtime may be the reason children suffer from daytime sleepiness. Not getting enough will make the child feel tired and sleepy all day long.

In fact, several studies link daytime sleepiness with behavioral and concentration problems.

3. Feeling fatigued after a late bedtime

Daytime sleepiness goes hand in hand with fatigue. It’s likely the child will feel weaker, and more tired if they don’t sleep and rest enough.

They also can fall into a “hyper-alert” or anxious state, which can later cause more sleep disorders that are difficult to solve.

tired child

4. Risk of obesity

Poor sleep patterns can increase the risk of childhood obesity, as the results of several scientific studies state.

Giving a child a late bedtime, or allowing them little sleep, could be a risk factor of weight gain and obesity. This is especially true if they follow other bad habits, like leading a sedentary lifestyle.

How to improve your child’s sleep habits

Children need guidance from their parents to adopt suitable habits. In fact, some investigations claim that we form our sleeping habits in the first few months of our lives. For that reason, our parents’ work in this regard is essential.

It’s important to observe your child’s sleeping habits, bearing in mind that they should go to bed between 7:30 and 8:30 P.M.

Also, when possible, the whole family should get involved in this process. It’s easier for the child to understand that they should rest when they see that their parents and siblings are also getting enough sleep.

Lastly, to ensure their sleep will be uninterrupted, they should sleep in rooms free of distractions such as TVs, computers, or tablets.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.