At least that’s what a new study has to say about the best thing to do when it comes to tucking your youngster in for the night.
The study is in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and followed more than 11,000 kids from ages 2-7.
Seems that the 7-year-olds who had bedtimes all across the board had more problems with learning — and did much more poorly than kids who had a set bedtime.
And importantly, the research even takes into account other factors such as family size and situation, siblings, overall health, TV time, and so forth.
Seems the growing brain likes regularity. Because of hormones and other chemicals, an internal brain clock set to a regular schedule will absorb and process new information more readily — which makes it easier for a child to become a sponge when it comes to learning.
And it looks like that regularity should start young. Kids who had a set bedtime at ages 2-3 did much better when tested at age 7 than kids who started hitting the sack at a set time years later. The brain didn’t seem to be able to catch up to this new habit.
Now my question went beyond the importance of a set, regular schedule.
Is there an actual bedtime that is best? Between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. seemed best … and those who bounced around past 9 p.m. seemed to have more difficulty in school.
And here’s a side note for us grownups: a consistent bedtime is best for work performance, immune function, and even blood pressure.
Perhaps we should be setting the alarm to get to bed.
Here’s the study: jech.bmj.com/