Give Your Little Dude A Brain Boost By Keeping A Set Bedtime

It’s always nice to be proven right, even if it is a bit after the fact.

See, when the little dudes were still babies, I insisted that they have a specific bedtime that, some might consider, a bit early. The way I saw it, an early bedtime for the little dudes meant a bit more decompression time for their dad and mom. That made for less-cranky all around, both for them and for us.

A new study has come out saying that, not only were we right, but that we also gave the little dudes a significant brain boost thanks to that bedtime decision. I pulled the following from an article by Todd Neale, from Medpage Today, a continuing medical education effort from the Perelman School of Medication at the University of Pennsylvania.

A regular bedtime may be important for the cognitive development of young children, researchers found. 

The effect appeared to accumulate, because a failure to go to bed at a regular time at multiple time points in the first 7 years of life was associated with lower cognitive scores for both boys and girls, the researchers reported online in theJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Not going to bed on a schedule “could have important ramifications, as when sleep is restricted or disrupted symptoms that reflect a reduced capacity for plastic change [in the brain] and/or disrupted circadian rhythms follow, including cognitive impairment and lack of concentration,” they wrote.

The study included more than 11,000 children age 7 who lived in the U.K. but the researchers consider the data to be valid for children living everywhere. Not going to bed at the same time each night, researchers found, contributes greatly to a significantly reduced cognitive ability.

Among girls, those who did not have a regular bedtime at ages 3, 5, and 7 had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.36), math (beta -0.51), and spatial abilities (beta -0.40) at age 7.

And among boys, those who did not have a regular bedtime at any two of those ages had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.28), math (beta -0.22), and spatial abilities (beta -0.26) at age 7.

That is not good, dudes. Not good at all.

While the researchers acknowledge that there are some bits to their methodology that need sprucing up — no data on weekend bedtimes, for example — they’re pretty confident in their results.

“Thus,” the researchers wrote, “our results suggest that having a regular bedtime is important alongside other aspects of family circumstances.”

There’s some more good information at the site, so I’d suggest you head over there for a while to read the story. It’s not all that long, but, if you need convincing, it’s important information to have.

I’m glad to have this study. I’ve long felt like we were voices howling in the wilderness when it came to bedtime. I know so many other parents who put their little dudes and dudettes to bed whenever they felt like it on different nights. I’ve always thought that was far too lax, an example of the parent wanting their child to like them, so they let the children set the bedtime.

The reason we’re the ones in charge is that we’re old enough to see that sometimes what we want isn’t what we need. And also we know when it’s time to go.

Speaking of which. . .


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