Babies and children

Regular bedtime helps children do better at school

bedtime Achieve higher scores in maths, literacy

Children who consistently go to bed at the same time, and get the right amount of sleep do better at school in a range of subjects, experts say.

A study of over 8,000 four year olds found that children with a regular bedtime and who slept eleven hours sleep a night, scored more highly in understanding and expressing language, phonics, early maths and literacy.

Parents of the children were questioned about bedtime and wake times when the children were 9 months old and again when their child was 4 years old.

The study also found that an earlier bedtime was the best predictor of higher scores for most developmental outcomes for the age group.

The findings from the study show that many children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may adversely affect their development and school achievement, the researchers said.

"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," said Dr Erika Gaylor, an early childhood policy researcher for SRI International, California, who led the study.

"Pediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviours which in turn lead to healthy sleep."

She also recommended that parents help their infants get enough sleep by setting an appropriate time for their child to go to bed and interacting with their child at bedtime using routines such as reading books or telling stories.

Another study published in the journal Sleep Medicine last year, also emphasised the importance of an early bedtime and consistent bedtime routine for children.

It reported that children with a bedtime after 9 p.m. took longer to fall asleep and had a shorter total sleep time. Children without a consistent bedtime routine also were reported to obtain less sleep.

The findings were presented today at SLEEP 2010, the annual conference of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held in San Antonio, Texas.

This article was published on Mon 7 June 2010

Image © luna #19837255

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