Do your kids have a set bedtime or do they just crash whenever they get tired? After seeing the results of a new study from researchers in the U.K., you may be more convinced than ever to enforce a a regular bedtime.

According to researchers from the University College of London, kids who had no set bedtime or who went to bed later than 9 p.m. had lower scores on reading and math tests than kids who hit the hay earlier.  

Researchers gathered data on more than 11,000 7-year-olds at ages 3, 5 and 7. They compared their learning abilities and test scores to each child's sleeping habits. They found that inconsistent bedtimes were most common at the age of 3, but that by age 7, more than half the children had a regular bedtime — typically between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. But the kids who never had regular bedtimes tended to fare worse than their peers in terms of tests for reading, math and spatial awareness.

Now, I know from experience that lack of sleep makes it harder to think. But my first thought upon hearing about this study was that it may be more than the lack of a set bedtime that's causing these kids to do poorly on their tests. In fact, the researchers found that the kids who did not have a set bedtime also came from more socially disadvantaged families and were less likely to be read to each night or even to have access to books and other learning materials. These kids also watched more television than their peers and often had TV sets in their rooms.

Still, researchers noted that after controlling for these factors, the link between an inconsistent bedtime and poor test scores was still there. Their results are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

What do you think? Do your kids go to bed at a set time each night?  Do you think their bedtime affects their ability to learn?

via BBC News

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