Regular bedtimes equal fewer behavior problems

Researchers have found that there are benefits to regular bedtimes for kids other than just parents’ sanity.

From The New York Times Well blog:

“British researchers interviewed mothers when their children were ages 3, 5 and 7, asking how often their children had a regular bedtime: always, usually, sometimes or never. The mothers and the children’s teachers also completed questionnaires about behavioral difficulties.

“Almost 20 percent of 3-year-olds had no regular bedtime, compared with 9.1 percent of 5-year-olds and 8.2 percent of 7-year-olds. After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were.

“The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.”

The lead study author, Yvonne Kelly, a professor of lifecourse epidemiology at University College London, adds a caveat through.

“Getting kids into a regular bedtime routine does appear to have important impacts on behavioral development,” she said. “But there are lots of things that have beneficial effects. Having a regular bedtime is only one of them.”

Our bedtime is posted so there can be no arguing, and they are off screens an hour and half before bedtime. (The backlighting on screens is supposed to keep them from falling asleep.) Sometimes there is still giggling and running back and forth between bedrooms so I just sit in the hall working on my computer for about 10 minutes until everyone is calm.  I do think really enforcing the bedtime makes a big difference in attitude and behavior the next day.

Do you have a set bedtime? Has it helped with attitude and behavior? How do you enforce the time?

19 comments Add your comment


October 24th, 2013
5:48 am

I think it is cocommittent . Children with regular bedtimes tend to be parented better all around. Discipline in one area leads to discipline in others. Establishment of parental efficacy helps kids all around.

I bet I can tell you which of my second and third graders have a regular bedtime.

When raising my children we had set bedtimes until high school. But the pattern had been established by then. I think doing it from the first 2-3 years old helps. That, and,knowing that mom was not negotiating on it.

There were no TVs or other entertainment/communication devices in the bedrooms, and we rarely had
a surplus of flashlight batteries. I could not make them fall asleep, but I COULD set the parameters to encourage it.


October 24th, 2013
6:26 am

We have a set bedtime for our kids – one for the younger ones, and one for the older one. There is bedtime prep, then story, then to sleep. To get them to stay asleep requires wearing them out during the day though. And, if someone special is happening, we do allow a slightly later bedtime to compensate. And, if later one night, then a half-hour earlier the next.


October 24th, 2013
6:47 am

I laughed when I read the title.. YOU THINK? Amen catlady. There are lots of things teachers can tell. Good ideas Kat. Routines are very helpful for children too. IMHO random parents produce random children and when you have 24 in one classroom…random is NOT attractive.


October 24th, 2013
7:03 am

This should not be news to anyone that a regular bedtime is good for kids. We’ve been doing that since infancy, and it really shows today 11 years later. No fuss at bedtime and no hassle about turning off the TV or whatever. It’s all about rules and most importantly enforcing them.


October 24th, 2013
7:15 am

Yeah this isn’t exactly news. However, I tend to agree with catlady that it may not be all about the bedtime, but that usually bedtimes also indicate better parenting all around.

I am a big believer in bedtimes since my husband’s parents didn’t enforce them and TO THIS DAY he still keeps irregular sleep patterns. He has always gravitated towards jobs with “flex time”.


October 24th, 2013
7:21 am

@mom2alexandmax…our husbands might be related. I have enjoyed watching PERSON OF INTEREST. Now it is on at 10:00 p.m. TOO LATE FOR ME. I cannot sleep if the last thing I do is watch a busy TV show. I need to read to relax. He is not happy that I do not want to stay up and watch it with him. He gets up at 4:30 a.m. for work and stays up all hours watching TV. Not my cup of tea. His parents had a free for all when he was growing up. I lived in the OCD ward. Opposites attract and fireworks do happen. HAHA!


October 24th, 2013
8:25 am

Well DUH! We have all said this for years.


October 24th, 2013
8:31 am

i was a firm believer in established bedtime, however i was step-parent, so their mom had her own rules or lack of them. funny, i saw my oldest step son several years ago and he admitted to me that i didn’t like it when he was younger, but realized the rules and boundaries were for his and his brother’s best interest. he thanked me for having those in place, eventhough his mother was the “friend” parent.

do this day for myself i have a bedtime. helps with insomnia. i don’t watch mind-stimulating tv an hour before bed, and won’t talk on the phone 30 minutes prior to bed. just get my mind racing too much and then i’m awake. when i was diagnosed with insomina, structure in bed routine was very important, and years later i still practice it.

again, being parent to child and not friend is important. parents make and enforce rules. if child is raised that way, teachers and everyone else child interacts with are happier all around, and eventualy the child will realized it was all for their best interest and happiness.

Atlanta Mom

October 24th, 2013
9:23 am

Catlady said it all.
I wonder how much money they spent on this study, the results of which could have been predicted by most any teacher or responsible parent.


October 24th, 2013
10:18 am

So one in five parents are stupid enough to let their 3-year-old run around without nighttime schedule? Clearly they are in for some hard times as their kid gets older. The earlier you get a kid on a schedule, the better for EVERYONE.


October 24th, 2013
10:51 am

Mondays are rough for elementary school children. Their regular bedtime is often disrupted on the weekend. It is pretty obvious which children visited with non-custodial parent over the weekend, they are the ones who can’t get their head off their desk. In my school district elementary students begin arriving at 7:15 am with morning work in homeroom. Quite early for a child that may have been up until 10 pm the night before at big brother/sister’s football/baseball/dance event. I’ve had eight year old students tell me they were at sports practice until 9:30 pm the night before. Parents and coaches need to use some common sense with young children’s bedtimes.


October 24th, 2013
11:34 am

It is all about structure and consistency. Children and adults too need structure in their daily schedules with set mealtimes and bedtimes.


October 24th, 2013
12:05 pm

While I don’t agree with everything he says, I am a fan of John Rosemond’s ideas about behavioral consequences. For many problems, he recommends putting the child to bed early, and quoting “the doctor.” Ie, “The doctor says that since you are having trouble with ( fill in the blank), what would help is going to bed an hour earlier. If that does not help, we can move it back more.” This is used when a child hangs onto a developmentally inappropriate behavior, such as whining.


October 24th, 2013
12:29 pm

I thought this was common sense. Not sure why we need researchers to tell us common sense things. I know I feel better when I get enough sleep. I always shake my head when I see young kids (toddler thru elementary) at the grocery store at 10pm at night. I always think to myself… well, maybe they are homeschooled and don’t have a “must get up time” in the morning. But in reality, they are probably going to school with my kids early in the morning and disrupting their class.

My kids are in bed at 8:30… mostly because I consider their education a priority. If they were involved in a sport that required practice/play until 9pm at night or later… they would not be involved in that sport. Period. It is as simple as that. Parents don’t HAVE to do that sport or that team. Parents CHOOSE those things.

My 8 year old knows her schedule. At 7:30 she takes a shower. At 8pm, we read together. At 8:30 lights out. I don’t even have to tell her most times. It’s routine for her… and a routine that she likes. As a result, we don’t and have never ever argued over going to bed. Also, I don’t know if it is coincidental or not, but both of my kids have never been in time out at school. My son, a kindergartener, once got a frowny face for talking over others. But other than that, no behavior problems at school. My daughter has never even got a frowny face (negative mark) before.

Who let the dogs in

October 24th, 2013
4:22 pm

How about regular spankings? I have a guy in my biology class who I would love to spank me.


October 24th, 2013
6:03 pm

Enter your comments here’s here is the thread on school permission slips?


October 24th, 2013
8:05 pm

Do regular bedtimes equal fewer behavior problems? What a load of junk from Theresa… cut, paste, go back to suburbia and keep writing junk. This is really piss poor quality of work, yet you are allowed to teach college students. I don’t know how, I don’t know why you have a job doing a blog or for goodness sake, teaching college students when you produce this garbage.


October 24th, 2013
8:08 pm

If I were a parent paying for my kids college and I read your blog, I would seriously doubt why I am spending money on such crap – is this the final result, this blog? This is crap – just crap. You cut and paste most of your topics probably found via automatic Google searches on parenting – post it, write a minimal amount of sentences then post. I would want my money back from you honey – this is not college level material quality. You are a parasite.


October 25th, 2013
9:55 am

Gee Joni, calm down. Simple solution–don’t read this blog. Take your mean words somewhere else.