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Children with non-regular bedtimes tend to have more behavioral difficulties, says study

Every parent knows the struggle of putting children to sleep, most especially when they aren’t tired. Youngsters seem to have this unlimited reservoir of energy within them, and it almost seems impossible to calm them down.

But if you are able to implement strict bedtime hours for your kids despite all these challenges, then you are on the right track.

That’s because a 2013 study that recently resurfaced says that children with regular bedtimes reap a huge number of benefits, as opposed to those who didn’t stick to a bedtime routine.

Researchers in the U.K. observed the sleep habits of 10,000 children when they were between the ages of 3 and 7 years old.

The study – published in the journal Pediatrics – showed that those with non-regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties at home and at school than those with regular sleep times.

About 20% of the parents said that their three-year-olds did not have a regular sleeping schedule. That number went down to 9% for five-year-olds and 8% for seven-year-olds.

Children who didn’t have regular bedtimes scored higher on things such as

The study’s lead researcher, Yvonne Kelly, said that putting kids to bed at 8 o’clock one night then 10 o’clock the next will result in a sort of “social jet lag”, even though they are getting the same amount of sleep every night.

However, Kelly’s team also found that these negative effects on behavior were not irreversible.

When children with non-regular bedtimes switched to having regular bedtimes, their behavior improved in a “statistically significant” way regardless of age, according to the study’s results.

“This shows that it’s never too late to help children back onto a positive path, and a small change could make a big difference to how well they get on,” Kelly explains.

The same principle applied when children with regular bedtimes switched to having non-regular bedtimes: “For children who changed from regular to nonregular bedtimes between ages 5 and 7 there was a statistically significant worsening in scores.”, the research read.

However, parent characteristics and family habits should also be accounted for when it comes to behavioral problems, and should not be attributed solely to irregular bedtimes.

Kelly recommends that parents lessen their kids’ screen time before bed and get them into a routine that involves calming activities, such as reading bedtime stories.

“All of these things which are kind of just basic common sense are going to help,” she said.

Despite its importance, Kelly noted that the results of this study should not drive parents “crazy”.

“The odd late night is not going to cause harm either,” she said.

(Note: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion, recommendation or diagnosis.)

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