Children with consistent and early bedtimes — as well as regulated television and screen habits — have improved emotional health and are less likely to become obese.
A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that by following several household routines, parents were able to establish a pattern for their child that would lead to greater emotional and physical health later in childhood and teen years.
“Children who have a regular bedtime routine also have earlier bedtimes, sleep more, fall asleep faster, have fewer nighttime awakenings, and are less likely to have behavior problems,” said study author Sarah Anderson of The Ohio State University College of Public Health.
A lapse in the routine, however, may not produce the same positive outcomes.
“Even children who ‘usually’ had a regular bedtime had a statistically significantly elevated risk for obesity and the risk for obesity was even higher in children with inconsistent bedtimes,” said Anderson.
Researchers analyzed information gathered in the Millennium Cohort Study, a study of almost 11,000 children born in Britain between 2000-2002. When those children were three years old, their parents answered survey questions to assess bedtime and mealtime routines, television habits and emotional growth.
“We saw that children who had the most difficulties with emotion regulation at age three also were more likely to be obese at age 11,” said Anderson.
The study authors concluded that the risk of obesity was greatest for those with the least amount of consistency in their bedtime routines.