Irregular Bedtimes are Bad for Your Kid’s Brain

Sleep and Brain DevelopmentHere’s a reason to stick to a bedtime routine: a new study conducted in the UK and published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that children who lack consistency and go to bed at different times each night score significantly lower for math skills, reading comprehension, and spatial awareness.

The study examined 11,000 children in the United Kingdom whose family routines, including bedtimes, were recorded when they were aged 3, 5 and 7. At age 7, the children were given tests to assess their skills.

At age 3 inconsistent bedtimes were associated with lower scores across all subjects, which may suggest that this age is a particularly vital period for ensuring kids get adequate sleep for the development of cognitive and mental skills.

The research also showed that the negative impact of irregular bedtimes seems to be cumulative. Girls who never had regular bedtimes at ages 3, 5 and 7 had significantly lower reading, math and spatial-awareness scores than the girls who had consistent bedtimes. The results for boys was a little different; they also scored lower on the tests, either at ages 3 and 5 or at ages 3 and 7.  

Why should bedtime influence a child’s brain development? Researcher ventured that irregular bedtime could dispurt natural body rhythms causing sleep deprivation and a child’s ability to comprehend and retain new information.

The author of the study, Amanda Sacker of the University College London had this to say, "Early child development has profound influences on health and well-being across the life course. Therefore, reduced or disrupted sleep—especially if it occurs at key times in development—could have important impacts on health throughout life."

So, develop nighttime regimen and stick to it for optimum mental health for your little brainiacs.