Consistent Bed Times: Important for Many Reasons

From the Show: Healthy Children
Summary: Getting your child to bed at the same time each night is powerful.
Air Date: 5/14/14
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Wendy Sue Swanson, MD
Wendy Sue Swanson headshot high resDr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a board certified pediatrician, mother to two young boys and the author of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Seattle Mama Doc Blog, the first pediatrician-authored blog for a major children's hospital.

Dr. Swanson is interested in the intersection of media and medicine and its impact on the physician-patient relationship. Her online presence through her blog and Twitter has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of parents who would have been beyond her reach without social media. Dr. Swanson works diligently to offer parents relevant, practical, and timely health information in accessible formats and she believes that a growing community of online physicians can empower parents and patients to make informed decisions based on science. Tackling issues from vaccines to potty training to work life balance, Dr. Swanson provides a voice of reason, not only as a pediatrician but also as a parent, helping parents gain clarity and eliminate fear when making decisions for their children. Her book, Mama Doc Medicine, published by The American Academy of Pediatrics, hit bookshelves in early 2014.

Dr. Swanson is the founder and executive director of Digital Health at Seattle Children’s. She is also an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media. She is also on the Board of Advisors for Parents magazine and is on the board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. She is a weekly medical contributor with NBC affiliate KING 5 News in Seattle and is a practicing pediatrician with The Everett Clinic. Dr. Swanson is an advocate on the topic of vaccines and was named a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion in 2012. She was named to TIME Magazine's Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.

You can find Dr. Swanson on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@SeattleMamaDoc) nearly every day.
Consistent Bed Times: Important for Many Reasons
Finding and securing a consistent bedtime is one place where a secret recipe may really work.

Actually, it's not secret at all.

The facts are in. Getting your kids to bed at a consistent time each night has been proven to make them nicer, calmer, more able to focus and better able to pay attention at school. Overall, this consistency reduces many potential behavior problems.

New data on sleep patterns for young children drives this point home. Getting your children to bed at the same time each night is powerful. Without a reliable and regular bedtime routine, children may disrupt natural circadian rhythms. In addition, sleep deprivation is more likely in children whose bedtimes move all around.

The secret is in routine. It may sound trite, but if you stay the course, make bedtime a wonderful time to read, talk and listen to your kids, then bedtime is something they will look forward to instead of dreading. Children should not use electronics or watch TV right before bed and if you, as the parent, treat bedtime as a treat, your children will see it that way too. 

Start the bedtime routine early, with teeth-brushing and getting ready, and then settle in with your child and really let them use that time to be just with you. No phones or distractions. By doing these few things, and insisting on a set bedtime, your children will actually look forward to going to bed.

Mama Doc, Wendy Sue Swanson, joins Melanie Cole, MS, to discuss why routine and consistent bedtimes are so important for raising a healthy, well-adjusted child.
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