To moms around the world, Jon Quach, a research fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, has earned a new nickname: Captain Obvious. Quach is the author of a new study which concludes that putting kids to bed early is better for a mom's mental health. Shocker!
For the study, Quach and his colleagues tracked thousands of families over more than ten years, questioning them every two years about their sleep patterns and health. At the beginning of the study, the children involved were in the 4-5 year age range. Researchers checked in with them again when they were 6-7 years old and then one more time when they were 8-9 years old. The researchers found that when children went to bed early — defined as prior to 8:30 p.m. — both moms and kids had better mental health.
"So mums and dads, getting kids to bed early is not just great for them. It’s good for you, too," Quach told Today.
To be fair, I don't think Quach was trying to be quite so condescending. And his study did actually produce one interesting nugget: When kids went to bed early, they and their moms had better mental health, regardless of how long the children actually slept. It's tempting to assume that children who go to bed early sleep longer than children who don't. But the researchers found that this wasn't always the case. Yet even when kids didn't sleep as long, they still had better mental health in the long run just by getting to bed earlier. And their moms did, too.
As a mom, this makes perfect sense for two reasons. When my kids go to bed earlier, it usually jump-starts my own bedtime, and I wind up hitting the sheets earlier, too. It also gives me a block of time in the evening to wind down, enjoy the quiet, watch "This Is Us" or just plain zone out without interruption. It's a no-brainer that this extra downtime would be good for my overall mental health.
But what's also a no-brainer is that most moms don't need a study to tell them to try to get their kids to bed earlier. Blogger Maria Guido shared her thoughts about the study on the website, Scary Mommy:
"I thought my routine of fighting with my kids about bedtime every night, sweating with exhaustion while I pull pajamas on their squirmy legs, crying as I hear their footsteps emerging down the stairs so they can utter one of their many stalling excuses, and finally collapsing on the couch with a mug of wine at 10 p.m. that I will promptly spill as I fall asleep, was the healthiest choice for everyone. All I need to do is “put them to bed” earlier? Awesome."
In other words, thanks Captain Obvious. We'll take it from here.