Children who do not have fixed bedtimes are more likely to experience behavior problems, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.
What’s more, as children progressed through early childhood without a regular bedtime, their behavior continually got worse.
The good news is that these effects are reversible. Children who were changed to regular bedtimes showed definite improvements in their behavior.
Researchers at the University College London analyzed data collected from more than 10,000 British children at the ages of three, five and seven. They found a clear, statistically significant link between the lack of regular bedtimes and behavior difficulties, which included hyperactivity, problems getting along with other children, mood swings, and other conduct problems.
“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,” said lead author Yvonne Kelly, professor of life course epidemiology at the College.
The message to parents: Schedule a specific bedtime, and then get the children to bed on time to help ensure good behavioral development.