The importance of getting enough sleep is undeniable. If you are a parent, there’s no need to convince you of the damages lack of healthy sleep pattern can cause on your capability to concentrate and deal with every day’s essentials. Irregular sleep patterns and an insufficient amount of sleep can be even more detrimental to your child’s development and cognitive capabilities. Research has shown that children who get a poor start in life are much more likely to experience difficulties as adults – be it with health, in their personal life, or at work. And not getting enough sleep has something to do with it.

How much sleep does a kid need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep patterns:

amount of sleep recommended for children at different ages

Image Credit: The Sleep Foundation

It’s not just the amount of sleep a child gets which matters

Having an irregular bedtime also affects how kids get on at home and at school, throughout the first ten years of their lives. This is how.

The ‘jet lag’ effect

Data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) shows that children with irregular bedtimes had lower scores on maths, reading and spatial awareness tests. Though, the time that children went to bed had little or no effect on their basic number skills, or their ability to work with shapes. But having no set bedtime was linked to lower scores, especially for three-year-olds. This is explained by the “social jet lag effect”. If a child goes to bed at a completely different time each day, this can lead to disruption in the circadian rhythm as well as in their hormonal systems.

Regular bedtimes can improve children behavior

The Millennium Cohort Study also suggests that children who had irregular bedtimes were considerably more likely to have behavioral problems than their peers who had a regular bedtime. But this process is reversible. If a child starts adopting a regular bedtime in their sleeping pattern, this leads to improvements in their behavior.

Problems with their weight

A follow-up study, which looked at the impact of routines (including bedtimes) on obesity, reported that children with irregular bedtimes were more likely to be overweight.

Even if you are not rearing your child on a strict schedule, have in mind that developing bodies need routines, secure patterns, for proper functioning and development. You can find detailed information in the article below.


Irregular bedtimes could be damaging children’s health and development. Here’s how

New research shows that it’s not just the amount of sleep a child gets which matters, but also the time that they go to bed.

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