Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Irregular Bedtimes & Behavior Problems in Kids

    But, setting a consistent bedtime can get children back on track, researcher says

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Serena Gordon

    HealthDay Reporter

    MONDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A regular bedtime might guarantee more than a good night's sleep for both kids and their parents -- it turns out that a regular bedtime can make for a better-behaved child, new research suggests.

    When 7-year-olds had irregular bedtimes, they were more likely to have behavior problems than their peers with a consistent time for their nightly shut-eye. And, the study also found that the longer a child had been able to go to bed at different times each night, the worse his or her behavior problems were.

    "Irregular bedtimes were linked to behavioral difficulties, and these effects appeared to accumulate through early childhood," said the study's lead author, Yvonne Kelly, a professor of lifecourse epidemiology at University College London.

    "We also found that the effects appeared to be reversible -- children who changed from not having, to having, regular bedtimes showed improvements in behaviors, and vice versa," she added.

    Kelly and her colleagues reviewed data on more than 10,000 7-year-olds who were enrolled in the U.K. Millennium Cohort Study. Details on the children's bedtimes were collected when they were 3, 5 and 7 years old.

    At the same time that sleep findings were collected, researchers asked teachers and mothers to rate the children's behaviors. The behavior survey included 25 questions.

    Kids with irregular bedtimes had more behavioral problems than did children with regular bedtimes, according to both their teachers and their mothers. The children's mothers rated the children with irregular bedtimes as having slightly more behavior problems than did the teachers.

    The longer a child had an irregular bedtime, the greater the behavioral difficulties. On average, a child who had an irregular bedtime at one time-point in the study increased his or her score on the behavioral difficulties scale by about a half-point. If that child had an irregular bedtime at two time-points during the study, the score increased by about 1 point. If the child had an irregular bedtime at all three time-points during the study, the score increased by just over 2 points.

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Article
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    Article
     
    hand holding a cell phone
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    girl being bullied
    Article
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow