Many parents have experienced a child who is reluctant to adhere to their bedtime. Though some take a strict, the rules are the rules approach, many others are more lax, figuring that it’s not worth fighting with their child for 30 minutes of extra sleep.
However, new research has been published that shows just how detrimental it can be on your child’s learning, even when they stay up just a little bit later than normal.
Child development expert Dr. Yvonne Kelly told the Daily Mail that even in a small change in their sleep schedule can affect a child’s school performance.
They study looked at test performance in both three and seven year olds who have and don’t have regular bedtimes. Unsurprisingly, both age groups did worse on the tests when they didn’t have a regular bedtime.
Her research has also demonstrated that three year olds, who already struggle with managing their emotions, struggle even more. She also found a correlation between irregular bedtimes in childhood and obesity in adulthood.
Dr. Kelly explained, “If you fly across time zones, it is difficult to function when you get to New York, for example. If you ask a child to effectively do the same thing by changing their sleeping patterns, they are going to struggle even more than an adult would. Sleep is important for forming and storing memories, to learn from day to day, and it is essential for children.”
Her study followed over 11,000 children over the course of four years, and was recently published in the British Medical Journal.
There is an upside, however. “Children who switched to having a regular bedtime showed improvements in their behaviour, Kelly said.
“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.”