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Not Having A Regular Sleep Schedule Is Messing Up Your Kids Terribly – So Go The F To Sleep

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shutterstock_114184453__1373366750_74.134.205.46I am such a fan of sleep. Yay sleep! Do you like sleeping? Do you wish you were sleeping now? Yay sleep! And you all need to be much bigger fans of sleep, especially if you have children because not putting them to sleep at a regular bedtime is disrupting their brain development – and girls may be affected more than boys. I am a firm believer in getting a good night’s sleep, especially for kids, and mainly because I NEED them to be in bed at a certain time because then it’s my mommy time out time which sometimes involves adult beverages and bad television shows. I let my eldest decide his own sleep schedule because when left to his own whims he usually falls asleep around ten and is awake and going on a run at five in the morning, which I think is pretty great for a lazy teenager. He has woken up late for school maybe twice in his high school career, and he has always been an early bird. With my other kids, ages eight and ten, I make them go to bed at eight o’clock but I let them read a bit before I make them turn the lights out. On weekends and holidays I let them stay up a bit later but for the most part we stick to this schedule. A new article in The Guardian claims it doesn’t matter as much as what time your kids go to sleep, but just that it’s around the same time every night, and it’s especially important for little kids:

Irregular bedtimes may disrupt healthy brain development in young children, according to a study of intelligence and sleeping habits.

Going to bed at a different time each night affected girls more than boys, but both fared worse on mental tasks than children who had a set bedtime, researchers found.

The effect was most striking in three year olds, where boys and girls scored lower on reading, maths and spatial skills tests than children of the same age who kept to a more rigid schedule.

Scientists at University College London said the lack of routine might impair early development by disrupting the body clock, or through sleep deprivation, which affects the brain’s ability to remember and learn new information.

“Age three seems to be where you see the largest effect and that is a concern,” said Amanda Sacker, professor of lifecourse studies at UCL.

“If a child is having irregular bedtimes at a young age, they’re not synthesising all the information around them at that age, and they’ve got a harder job to do when they are older. It sets them off on a more difficult path,” she added.

While the differences in test scores were modest – only a few points in many cases – irregular bedtimes throughout childhood appeared to have a cumulative effect, leading to greater problems later on.

This all sounds like an excellent argument towards celebrating my favorite hobby, which is sleeping. I know some parents are totally lax about what time their kids hit the hay, but how do they do that? I loved my kids when they were little but by seven o’clock I was OVER them and super excited about getting them to bed. I know some working parents feels the only quality time they get with their kids between work and daycare is at night, and also kids go through phases where they are impossible to get to bed. I think this new study is just a happy reminder that parents need to get more strict with making sure their kids go to bed at a certain time every night and stay in bed. Trust me, adult beverages and a baby gate placed in front of your toddler’s door helps.

(Photo: 2xSamara.com/shutterstock)