Parents of young children are probably already well aware that establishing a regular bedtime is not an easy task. Getting your kids to go to bed is tough enough on its own, and accomplishing the task when you’re also tired makes it even more impossible.
One new study is reporting now that even though establishing a bedtime for kids might be difficult, it’s something that pays off in the end. Researchers from the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute conducted a six-week study with two groups of students in a Montreal elementary school. The findings were recently published in the academic journal Sleep Medicine, and they show something that isn’t exactly too surprising: When children have a regular bedtime, they get more sleep. And when they get more sleep, they end up performing better academically.
The surprising part of this study isn’t this overall conclusion; the surprising part is how big of an impact a regular bedtime can make. On average, elementary school students ended up getting about 18-20 minutes of sleep more per night after a bedtime had been established for a while. Because they were getting more sleep, these students ended up performing better on both mathematical and English language tests.
Physical fitness increased slightly as well, but the biggest improvement was in improved cognitive abilities. Although this conclusion has big implications for elementary education, it’s also important to note that the same general logic applies to adults, too. One study from the National Sleep Foundation found that Americans who rate their overall health as “excellent” or “very good” tend to get about 18-23 minutes of sleep more than those who rate their overall health as “fair” or “poor.”
It doesn’t matter how you, your kids, and your grandkids can get the sleep you need; maybe you’ve found that reading before bed is the best way to relax, or maybe you decided to invest in a new adjustable bed. What really matters is that you get a solid seven hours of sleep at night (at minimum) and that you encourage your family to do the same!