Early Bedtimes May Lead to Healthier, More Active Kids, Says Science

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin. While researchers might not be certain about the impact of an early bedtime on intelligence or income, a recent study highlights its significance in helping children maintain a healthy body weight. The study, carried out by a team of scientists at the University of South Australia, examined the bedtimes, wake times, physical activity levels, and body weight of 2,200 children aged 9 to 16. The results demonstrated that children who went to bed early and rose early were more physically active and weighed less than their late-night counterparts.

Early bedtimes lead to healthier choices

Kids who were night owls tended to spend more hours watching television and playing video games, whereas those who followed Benjamin Franklin’s advice leaned towards lifestyles that encouraged more physical activity. This implies that going to bed early and waking up early not only facilitates better rest but also healthier choices in terms of physical activity.

The importance of sleep for children

Getting enough sleep is essential for children’s growth, learning, behavior, and overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children aged 6 to 12 should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers aged 13 to 18 should aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, poor mental health, attention problems, and decreased immunity.

Sleep and body weight correlation

Several factors contribute to the correlation between sleep and body weight. First, insufficient sleep disrupts the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, causing children to feel hungrier. This hormonal imbalance can lead to overeating and an unhealthy increase in body weight. Second, being sleepy can affect a child’s level of physical activity. Children who are tired are less likely to engage in sports, games, or other physical activities, resulting in reduced calorie burn and weight gain. Additionally, a lack of sleep can lead to low energy and poor decision-making, which might result in unhealthy food choices.

Establishing a bedtime routine

For parents who want to help their children maintain a healthy body weight, establishing a consistent bedtime routine is crucial. Here are some tips to create a sleep-inducing environment and encourage earlier bedtimes:

  1. Set a consistent bedtime: Choose a bedtime that allows your child to get the recommended amount of sleep based on their age. Ensure that the bedtime is practical, accounts for extracurricular activities and homework, and remains consistent even on weekends.

  2. Establish a calming pre-sleep routine: Engage in relaxing activities before bedtime, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or practicing meditation. Encourage your child to avoid stimulating activities that can interfere with sleep, such as watching TV, playing video games, or using other electronic devices.

  3. Make the bedroom sleep-friendly: Keep your child’s bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains or a white noise machine to eliminate light and external noise.

  4. Encourage physical activity: Help your child meet the daily recommendation for physical activity. Ensure they participate in both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. This not only helps maintain a healthy body weight but also supports regular sleep patterns.

  5. Limit caffeine and sugar intake before bedtime: Consuming caffeine and sugar late in the evening can interfere with falling asleep. Encourage your child to avoid sugary drinks, chocolate, and caffeinated beverages several hours before bedtime.


In summary, instilling an early bedtime routine has numerous benefits for kids – not just for their intellectual development, but also for maintaining a healthy body weight. Parents play a vital role in establishing this routine and ensuring that their children make healthier choices. By prioritizing sleep and encouraging physical activity, parents can support their children’s overall wellbeing and help them lead a healthier, more active life.