Child sleep pattern warning

Irregular bedtimes can leave children with behavioural problems and symptoms similar to jet leg, research has shown. An investigation by University College London showed how children put to bed at the same time everyday were more likely to behave.

Expert: Child's bedtime is 'single most important thing'

A "fixed bedtime" is the "single most important thing" parents can do to ensure their child does well at school and has the energy to be on their best behaviour, a child's sleep expert has told Daybreak.

Mum of four Andrea Grace was speaking after a wide-ranging study into the affects of a child's sleep pattern was published.

She urged parents to "really recognise" the importance of a "non-negotiable" bedtime routine if they wanted to make sure their child developed properly.

Children can 'reverse' erratic behaviour

A study into the effects of irregular bedtimes on young children found negative behaviour caused by sporadic sleep could be reversed, once they had settled into a routine.

Data was collected from children ages three, five and seven and information on behaviour was given by parents and teachers:

  • Three-year-olds were the most likely to have erratic bedtimes, with one in five children going to bed at varying times.
  • By age seven, half of children went to bed regularly between 7.30am and 8.30am.
  • If their bedtime had become more regular by the age of seven, children who had had had changeable bedtimes between the ages of three and five were better behaved.
  • If erratic bedtimes were not tackled, however, parents could expect their child's behaviour to progressively deteriorate.


Lack of sleep in children has 'lifelong impacts on health'

Early childhood has a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of youngsters, a survey has found.

Young children who did not have a regular bedtime at the age of three, were more likely to become unruly as they grew up.

Not having fixed bedtimes, accompanied by a constant sense of flux, induces a state of body and mind akin to jet lag and this matters for healthy development and daily functioning.

It follows that disruptions to sleep, especially if they occur at key times in development, could have important lifelong impacts on health. What we've shown is that these effects build up incrementally over childhood, so that children who always had irregular bedtimes were worse off than those children who did have a regular bedtime at one or two of the ages when they were surveyed.

– Professor Yvonne Kelly, from UCL's department of epidemiology and public health

Study: Regular bedtimes 'help children to behave'

Child sleep
Regular bedtimes help children to behave, a wide ranging survey has found. Credit: PA

Children with erratic bedtimes suffer similar symptoms to jet lag and may develop behavioural problems, a new study has found.

Youngsters who did not have a steady bedtime were more likely to have problems, like hyperactivity, problems with peers and emotional difficulties, a study by University College London (UCL) found.

In a 10,000-strong study, University College London found children who go for longer periods without a regular bedtime were more likely to exhibit erratic behaviour.