Giving young children regular bedtimes could help boost their brain power, a new study suggests. Girls in particular without regular bedtimes tended to have lower scores in reading, maths and spatial awareness.
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:
Sleep has a crucial and complex role in the maintenance of health and optimal function. Inconsistent bedtime schedules might impact on markers of cognitive development in two ways, via disruptions to circadian rhythms and/or sleep deprivation and associated effects on brain plasticity.
Our findings suggest that inconsistent bedtimes, especially at very young ages and/or throughout early childhood, are linked to children's cognitive development.
Relations between inconsistent bedtimes and aspects of early child development may have knock-on effects for health and broader social outcomes throughout the lifecourse.
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.