Putting a child to sleep earlier will help them sleep in longer if they need the additional sleep. They will ultimately sleep longer per night long-term and not necessarily on just an individual night you put them to bed early. It is THE way, in my experience, for getting an overtired baby or child to catch up on sleep and be overall more rested. Also, it can help with establishing better naps if that is a problem.
Right now DD (almost 2) goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 and wakes up between 8 and 8:30. She does not usually take a nap during the day (she seems to have outgrown naps early. BTW, her naps disappeared before her nights lengthened, so sleeping 12-13 hours a night was not the cause of her stopping naps). She will go through a week or two with sleeping long like this, then another week or two with waking at 7 or 7:30. A few weeks ago she even was waking as early as 6:30 (that made her grumpy all day). So all that is to say, her sleep patterns drift around a bit and her sleep needs change week to week and month to month. She has generally always been one to sleep longer at night than most babies and toddlers her age, though.
Wife to my supportive DH
and SAHM to DD Bug (06/10) and DS Buddy (07/12)