Bedtime─ For many families, it’s almost like playing a constant game of tug-of-war. Player number one in this ultimate battle of wills is a stubborn, yet adorable little girl who thinks that your bed is far better than her Cinderella bed, and refuses to go to sleep. Player number two, an exhausted mom or dad who is about ready to throw in the towel and seek refuge in the comfy pink ruffles of an uncomfortable toddler bed. This ongoing struggle with maintaining a steady bedtime may leave your little one (and, let’s face it, you too!) feeling tired and cranky during the day. These patterns of inconsistencies at bedtime, according to the results of a new study published in the November edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, has the potential to lead your little ones down a road towards behavioral issues.
Researchers analyzed data from over 10,000 children in the UK Millennium Cohort Study, with bedtime data collected with children who were three, five and seven years old, respectively, as well as reviewed reports from the children’s mothers and teachers regarding behavioral issues. The researchers found a distinct pattern as the children moved through their early childhood years without a regular bedtime in place, their behavioral scores deteriorated. However, children who were observed to have switched to a regular bedtime pattern showed remarkable improvements in their behavior. The researchers, led by lead author, Yvonne Kelly, professor of lifecourse epidemiology at University College London, concluded that as the study shows that the effects of inconsistent bedtimes are reversible, pediatric specialists should attempt to inquire about their young patients sleep disruptions as a routine part of a well-child visit.