Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental assessments, according to a current study. Results indicate that among sleep habits, having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at four years of age. Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed. Having an earlier bedtime also was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.
"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," said lead author Erika Gaylor, early childhood policy researcher for SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif. "Paediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviours which in turn lead to healthy sleep."
The study also provides a wealth of information about typical sleep patterns in 4-year-old children. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, preschool children should get a minimum of 11 hours of sleep each night. The data show that many children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may have negative consequences for their development and school achievement.
Gaylor recommended that parents can help their preschooler get sufficient sleep by setting an appropriate time for their child to go to bed and interacting with their child at bedtime using routines such as reading books or telling stories.
The study involved a nationally representative sample of approximately 8,000 children who completed a direct assessment at 4 years of age as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort. This analysis included information from parent phone interviews when their child was 9 months old and again when their child was 4 years old. Nighttime sleep duration was based on parent-reported usual bedtime and wake time. Developmental outcomes were assessed using a shortened set of items from standardised assessments. Results were controlled for potential confounders such as child and bedtime characteristics.
MEDICA.de; Source:American Academy of Sleep Medicine