Why Earlier Bedtimes Lead to Healthier and Possibly Smarter Children

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Getting the kiddos to bed is. a. struggle #forreal. But studies show that kids that have an earlier bedtime, (between 6 to 9 p.m.) sleep longer, are healthier, and have stronger cognitive skills compared to children that fall asleep later in the evening.

Studies found that children who sleep later in the evening — 10 p.m. or later — took longer to fall asleep, and were more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Additionally, the well-rested munchkins don’t just sleep better: they were able to function to a greater degree at school. A study monitored 7 to 11 year-old students, and their sleep cycle. The students who were put to bed an hour earlier for five nights were rated by their teachers (who were unaware of the children’s bedtime) as being less irritable and impulsive than usual.

In another study, researchers reported that 18-month-olds who went to bed before 10 p.m. were at a lower risk for motor, language, and social deficits compared with kids who went to bed later.

So other than better rest and behavior in school, what other health factors can come into play? Well, kids with late bedtimes are more likely to be overweight. One theory is that sleep creates changes to the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate appetite and hunger.

While researchers point out that there is no standardized bedtime for children, they recommend that you try to incorporate an earlier sleep schedule by getting the children ready for bed 20 minutes to an hour earlier. Monitor their behavior the next day, and adjust accordingly.

Learn more at Slate.

Photo: Lars Plougmann via Flickr

What time do your little ones go to bed? Tell us in the comments below!

H/T: Slate

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