The study on sleep patterns and brain power is conducted with over 11,000 seven-year-olds, which shows that kids who had no regular bedtime or went to bed past 9:00 p.m. had lower test scores for math, reading, and spatial awareness. The researchers conclude that lack of sleep may disrupt natural body rhythms and impair how the brain absorbs new information.
The impact is more obvious among younger girls (ages 3 to 5) than in boys and appear to be cumulative. The more often kids in the study do not sleep on a regular schedule, the lower their test scores.
The researchers, led by Professor Amanda Sacker of University College London, have also taken into account that children’s inconsistent bedtimes may also have to do with their chaotic family settings instead of disrupted sleep.
They have also found that children with late and erratic bedtimes came from families with more socially disadvantaged backgrounds. These kids are also less likely to be read to every night and watch more TV, often in their own bedroom.
The findings are published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
“The take-home message is really that routines really do seem to be important for children,” Professor Sacker said. “Establishing a good bedtime routine early in childhood is probably best, but it’s never too late.”