Bedtime Routines for Young Children: A Dose-Dependent Association with Sleep Outcomes

Background:

Establishment of a consistent bedtime routine (the activities that occur right before lights out) is often recommended as part of healthy sleep habits. However, no studies have investigated the dose-dependent association of a bedtime routine with sleep outcomes, especially in young children for whom they are particularly recommended. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine the associations of a consistent bedtime routine with sleep outcomes in young children (ages 0 through 5 y) in a large global sample and assess whether there is a dose-dependent relationship between the frequency of a bedtime routine both concurrently and retrospectively with sleep outcomes.

Results:

A consistent bedtime routine was associated with better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter sleep onset latency, reduced night wakings, and increased sleep duration. Decreased parent-perceived sleep problems and daytime behavior problems were also related to institution of a regular bedtime routine. Furthermore, there was a dose-dependent relationship, with better outcomes associated with increased “doses” of having a bedtime routine, both currently and retrospectively, and was found within both predominantly Asian and predominantly Caucasian cultural regions.

Conclusions:

These results indicate that having a regular nightly bedtime routine is associated with improved sleep in young children, and suggests that the more consistently a bedtime routine is instituted and the younger started the better.

Mindell JA, Li AM, Sadeh A, Kwon R, Goh DY. Bedtime routines for young children: a dose-dependent association with sleep outcomes. SLEEP 2015;38(5):717–722.


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