Regular bedtime may improve kids’ behavior
It may be a struggle getting your little one off to bed at night. But a new study says that if you’re noticing some negative changes in behavior, you may want to try getting them on a regular bedtime schedule.
Researchers at the University College London found that kids with regularly scheduled bedtimes were less likely to have behavioral issues at home and at school. According to the study’s authors, a consistent bedtime maintains children’s “body clocks,” helping them with mood and maintain focus throughout the day.
In fact, researchers believe the longer the irregular bedtimes occur, the worse the behavior will get.
“Having regular bedtimes during early childhood is an important influence on children’s behavior,” the study authors wrote in the journal Pediatrics this week. “There are clear opportunities for interventions aimed at supporting family routines that could have important impacts on health throughout life.”
For the study, the researchers reviewed data on more than 10,000 seven-year-olds from the United Kingdom’s Millennium Cohort Study, a research study of children born in the U.K. from 2000 to 2002. The information was gathered through continuing surveys of the children’s parents and teachers.
If your child is on an irregular bedtime schedule and showing signs of behavioral issues, it’s not too late to set things right. The study also found that children who were put on a consistent sleep schedule showed definite improvement in their behavior.
“For kids, behavior is highly correlated with sleep,” says Dr. Lori Osborne, pediatric psychologist with the Pediatric Developmental Center at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “As child behavior professionals, one of the first things we pay attention to is sleep habits.”
Dr. Osborne says that if parents suspect their children aren’t getting enough sleep, they should check with their pediatrician.
“One of the very first things we address is sleep, along with eating, when we talk to parents about behavioral issues,” she says. “If there is a problem in either of those areas, there’s usually a substantial impact on the child’s behavior.”
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