All good parents strive for their young children to have a consistent bed-time routine, right? You know, the usual drill... toilet, teeth, story, prayers and straight into bed, but does this routine really make a difference? Or are those parents just wasting their time and raising little robots?
A new study by Mindell et al (2015) published in the SLEEP journal titled 'Bedtime routines for young children: a dose-dependent association with sleep outcomes' has shown some encouraging results.
The researchers used the Brief Infant/Child Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ) that includes 13 sleep-related questions across three categories - sleep duration, night wakenings and method of falling asleep.
To avoid any cultural biases they interviewed 10 085 families across the globe including countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States. The results showed some staggering conclusions...
1. Not only did children with a bedtime routine sleep better, but they fell asleep quicker and had less night wakenings.
2. The results were dose-dependent - the more structured and consistent the bedtime routine, the better the children slept:
- The children fell asleep quicker and therefore went to bed earlier.
- The children stayed asleep longer with less night wakenings.
- The sooner the routine was implemented the better the outcome.
So, if you have kids aged 0-5 years, you can start right away. Get yourself a bedtime routine! Work out what suits your family and write it on the fridge so that there is no wriggle room for kids/parents/grandparents/sitters etc.
Your children will love the predictability and feel secure and loved knowing what's coming next. In fact, skip a step and they will probably tell you off! Here's to happy nights.