For Children, Consistent Bedtime is as Important as Sleep Quality and Quantity.

There are numerous studies on the quality and the quantity of sleep for children. Now there is insight to the regularity of children’s sleep.  It is found that the consistent nature of bedtimes during early childhood is related to cognitive performance. Considering the importance of early child development, this may be an influence for health throughout life.


A study out of the United Kingdom revealed that inconsistent bedtimes for young children result in lower scores on reading, math, and spatial awareness tests administered at age 7, compared to children who went to bed at the same time every night.
This research is particularly interesting because it zeroes in on the timing of sleep and the issue of bedtime consistency, apart from sleep quality or quantity. In the study, 11,178 children whose bedtimes were irregular at ages 3, 5, and 7 were tested at age 7.

7-14-1`2 teacher and sleeper

Study Results

 At age 7, not having a regular bedtime was related to lower cognitive test scores in girls: reading (β: −0.22), maths (β: −0.26) and spatial (β: −0.15), but not for boys. Non-regular bedtimes at age 3 were independently associated, in girls and boys, with lower reading (β: −0.10, −0.20), maths (β: −0.16, −0.11) and spatial (β: −0.13, −0.16) scores. Cumulative relationships were apparent. Girls who never had regular bedtimes at ages 3, 5 and 7 had significantly lower reading (β: −0.36), maths (β: −0.51) and spatial (β: −0.40) scores, while for boys this was the case for those having non-regular bedtimes at any two ages (3, 5 or 7 years): reading (β: −0.28), maths (β: −0.22) and spatial (β: −0.26) scores. In boys having non-regular bedtimes at all three ages (3, 5 and 7 years) were non-significantly related to lower reading, maths and spatial scores.
“Time for Bed: associations with cognitive performance in 7 year old children: a longitudinal population based study”
Yvonne Kelly, John Kelly, Amanda Sacker
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
, University College London, London, UK
Published Online First
8 July 2013