Setting bedtime rules encourages the healthy development of preschool-aged children. An abstract presented at SLEEP 2010 shows children who had a regular bedtime scored higher on language, reading and math assessments.
Earlier bedtimes were linked to higher scores in most of the developmental measures.
Children who slept less than 11 hours per night, the AASM’s recommended minimum for preschoolers, scored lower on phonological awareness, literacy and early math skills. Insufficient sleep may hurt a child’s development and school achievement.
The findings were based on a sample of 8,000 children assessed in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort. The longitudinal study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics followed children’s health, development, care and education from birth to the start of kindergarten.
In the government study parents reported usual bedtime and wake time. The children took a shortened set of items from standardized assessments to determine developmental outcomes.
The principal author of the study recommends parents help their preschooler get healthy sleep and encourage development by setting a regularly bedtime and establishing routines such as bedtime readings or stories.