Study: Irregular Bedtimes May Cause Behavioral Issues In Children

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta state that sleep deprivation can lead to a host of medical issues, including obesity and depression.

“Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome,” researchers at the CDC also noted. “Moreover, insufficient sleep is responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing substantial injury and disability each year.”

They added, “In short, drowsy driving can be as dangerous—and preventable—as driving while intoxicated.”

A new study suggests that odd sleeping habits and irregular bedtimes may now also be tied to behavioral issues in children.

A team of researchers at University College London, led by Yvonne Kelly, found the connection when they noticed positive changes in child behavior after their parents began instituting more regulated bedtimes, Reuters reports.

“If you are constantly changing the amounts of sleep you get or the different times you go to bed, it’s likely to mess up your body clock,” Kelly was quoted as saying. “That has all sorts of impacts on how your body is able to work the following day.”

For the study, data regarding the sleeping habits of a reported 10,000 or more children born between 2000 and 2002 in the United Kingdom was analyzed. An estimated 20 percent of parents involved in the long-term study said that their children rarely – if ever – went to bed at a normal time at age 3. By age 5, that number fell to 9 percent, then to 8 percent by age 7.

Researchers then created a 0-to-40 scale that measured the severity and frequency of behavioral problems in the children participating, with higher numbers indicating higher levels of issues.

When applied, the team found what they referred to as “meaningful” several-point differences in results between children who went to bed at consistent times and those who did not.

Kelly told Reuters that her team’s research indicates that behavioral issues could potentially be lessened in children with the implementation of regular bedtimes and sleeping habits.

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