Young children benefit from regular bedtimes

Researchers from University College London have published new findings on whether bedtimes in early childhood are related to cognitive test scores in seven year-olds. They examined data on bedtimes and cognitive tests for reading, maths, and spatial abilities for 11,178 seven year-old children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, and found that consistent bedtimes during early childhood are related to cognitive performance.

Findings showed that irregular bedtimes at age three were independently associated, in both girls and boys, with lower cognitive test scores in reading, maths, and spatial skills. Cumulative relationships were also apparent. Girls who did not have regular bedtimes at ages three, five, and seven had significantly lower cognitive test scores in reading, maths, and spatial skills, while for boys this was the case for those having irregular bedtimes at any two ages (three, five, or seven). The authors note that inconsistent bedtimes might be a reflection of chaotic family settings and it is this, rather than disrupted sleep, that impacts on cognitive performance in children. However, they found that inconsistent bedtimes were linked to markers of cognitive performance independent of multiple markers of stressful family environments.

Source: Time for Bed: Associations with Cognitive Performance in 7-year-old Children: A Longitudinal Population-based Study (2013), Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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