Study: Irregular bed times affect child behavior

Getting your children to bed on time may help them to behave better. A new British study finds kids with irregular bedtimes may have more behavioral difficulties than children with regular bedtimes.

"Irregular bedtimes definitely lead to kids who are more tired during the day," said Dr. Elaine Schulte, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's. "They don't eat right, they don't function well in school, and they're generally not happy citizens."

University College researchers in London collected data on more than 10,000 kids at ages 3, 5, and 7. They were given information on the kids' bedtimes and behavior by parents and teachers.

Results show as children progressed through early childhood without a regular bedtime, their behavior scores worsened. However, children who switched to a more regular bedtime had clear improvements in their behavior.

Having a regular bedtime during early childhood is an important influence on a child's behavior and support family routines promoting a consistent sleep time, said researchers.

"Kids who have a regular bedtime are much more likely to be compliant with other things in their life like eating healthy, listening to what their parents want them to do, and also cooperating and doing well in school." said Shulte.

Complete findings for this study are available online in the journal "Pediatrics."