A bedtime routine helps children sleep better

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Following a nightly ritual could greatly improve the quality of sleep in children. A new study’s results imply that kids of six years and below benefit greatly from a routine before bed. It helps them sleep better through the night with fewer interruptions, faster and longer sleep-times.

“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do. It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The study included 10,085 mothers from 14 countries. It was found that less than 50 percent of their children had a regular bedtime routine that was practiced every night. But for those children with a standard bedtime routine, their sleep patterns were found to be better than those without. These kids had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night wakings, and increased sleep duration.

In fact, children who followed bedtime routines got an hour’s longer sleep every night on average than those who did not follow a routine. According to the mothers’ reports, kids who followed a routine had fewer sleep problems and behavior problems in the day too.

So a regular sleep schedule is integral in getting a good night’s rest, especially in children. Having a night time routine with a few pleasant and calming activities before bedtime can help your child wind down and prepare for sleep in a calming manner, and is a good way to get in some quality time with your child. These everyday rituals can be as simple as having a warm, relaxing bath, brushing teeth and reading together before a designated sleeping time.

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices: Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell. “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

The multinational study was conducted by asking mothers to complete an online questionnaire which asked about their child’s sleep patterns in the day and night, bedtime routines and behavior.

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