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Parents are being urged to set regular bedtimes by researchers who have traced a link between inconsistent sleeping patterns in young children and limited cognitive brain function.
The authors of the Millennium Cohort study, a long-term research project examining more than 10,000 children, said:
New research shows that children who did not go to bed at a consistent time have lower intellectual ability, as measured in reading, maths and spatial awareness skills.
The children were tested at different ages, with different outcomes detected at each stage of development:
- At age 3, non regular bedtimes were linked with lower reading, maths and spatial awareness scores for both boys and girls
- At age 7, girls with non regular bedtimes had lower scores on all three aspects of intellect assessed
- Children without regular bedtimes and who were put to bed after 9pm tended to come from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds
Giving young children regular bedtimes could help improve their brain function, new research suggests.
In a study of more than 10,000 children over ten years, scientists found that inconsistent bedtimes are linked to children's cognitive development and are warned there could be "knock-on" health effects throughout life.