Consistent bedtime routines help kids sleep
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine surveyed more than 10,000 mothers of children under the age of 5 from 14 countries through an online questionnaire. The moms detailed their children’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and daytime behavior.
When a bedtime routine was performed every night, children slept for more than an hour longer per night, on average, than children without a bedtime routine.
“Bedtime routines are helpful because of the consistency,” says Dr. Anna Craioveanu, family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group who practices at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Patterns help children know what to expect, which makes bedtime easier not only for children, but their parents.”
A consistent bedtime routine was also linked to earlier bedtimes, less time needed to fall asleep, longer sleep and a decrease in daytime behavior problems, according to the study. Children tended to wake up fewer times during the night, and the more often a bedtime routine occurred, the more kids reaped these benefits.
Less than 50 percent of the surveyed children had a regular bedtime routine every night.
Dr. Craioveanu suggests parents start one day at a time.
“It can be as simple as putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth, or can be more elaborate with a warm bath, brushing teeth and bedtime stories,” she says. “Whatever you decide, just stick with it.”
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