This week on NPR, more good news about the importance of a consistent bedtime.
This recent study of young children and sleep ,out of the University College of London, supports a bedtime routine and more importantly a regular bedtime for young children.
In this study data was collected on over 10, 000 children and their families over a period of development. The researchers followed the sleep routines of these families through the children’s development at 3-years, 5-years and 7-years old. Detailed information was gathered on bedtimes and family behaviors around bedtime. The behaviors of the children were tracked throughout the day and recorded over these years of development.
The findings were as follows
Above ALL factors. In spite of…
- Family differences
- Differences in education
- Differences in socio-economic standing
The number one factor that affects the behavior in children is an irregular bedtime.
Irregular bedtime, even more so than a late bedtime, led to difficult behavior in young children that lasted over these ages of development and caused problems in school.
Behaviors such as…
- Hyper activity
- Attention issues
- Self regulation issues including hitting, biting and trouble with peers.
- Emotional withdrawal
One of the researchers stated that irregular bedtime creates an enforced jet lag onto the child. It creates a sleep deficit that the child has great difficulty overcoming during the waking hours. Since the bedtime is different each night the child never gets the opportunity to catch up on sleep and the “inner clock” gets off kilter.
Part of the reason is that the production of the major sleep hormone, melatonin, rises earlier in the evening for children than it does for adults.
Here is how you can help your child ride this natural wave of sleep inducing body chemistry.
- The best bedtime is between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. – I narrow that gap and say that asleep no later than 7:30 is the optimum time for children from toddler-hood and through grade school.
- Light suppresses melatonin production – Lower the lights and all household stimulation going into the evening. Above all turn electronics off at least two hours before bedtime. The worst light for melatonin production is the blue light that comes out of the television and computer.
Here is the best news of all…
Changing to a consistent bedtime, at anytime, created positive results.
Therefore, it is never too late to give our children a predictable routine and dependable bedtime. I say the sooner the better. According to this bit of research…better late than never.
- Regular bedtime. Do your best to keep on your routine.
- Get the naps in!
- Pick and choose activities. Don’t try to do it all and choose more day time activities rather than the ones that lead to variation in bedtimes.
- Keep the environment cool and dark.
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