It’s not as if my husband and I don’t want our 5-year-old to go to sleep at the same time every night. It’s that a few years ago, bedtime was a HELLISH STRUGGLE in which lassoing her under her covers required a feat of emotional and physical strength that even a tag-team combo of Dr. Phil and Superman would have lacked. Then when we stopped putting a numeric assignment on when she needed to go to sleep, the clouds lifted, the angels sang and we were all happier.
This has continued. We put her to bed each night based on a variety of factors, which include, but are not limited to: What time she got up that morning, what time she needs to get up the next morning, what she did that day, how she’s acting at dinner, and when we want to minimize the risk of her knocking over our wine glasses (just kidding. Kind of.).
That being said, lately we’d like to put her to bed at 3:41 p.m., which is when she steps off the bus from kindergarten. Because anything with her after that point is a HELLISH STRUGGLE.
As it turns out, this is likely linked directly to the fact that she doesn’t have a set bedtime.
A new study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, found that “irregular bedtimes could disrupt natural body rhythms and cause sleep deprivation, undermining brain maturation and the ability to regulate certain behaviors,” according to Medical News Today.
Yvonne Kelly, who is a professor at University College London’s Epidemiology & Public Health department says, “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.”
Not only do regular bedtimes help children’s present-day behavior, but Kelly’s research found it will also have “lifelong impacts on health.” Due to the disruption of circadian rhythms (or the body clock, to layparents), hyperactivity, conduct problems, peer struggles and emotional difficulties are all heightened.
The good news for parents like me is that, according to the study, the impacts of an irregular bedtime are not permanent. Establish a regular routine, get your child’s bedtime more regular and watch your kid’s behavior become less temperamental.
Ready . . . set . . . go!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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