Children who get to sleep early are more likely to have better health but – perhaps even more importantly – also much happier, healthier mums, according to new Australian research.
Research to be presented at the Australasian conference Sleep DownUnder 2015 in Melbourne today has found that getting kids to bed early may be even more important than simply ensuring they have a long sleep.
The study questioned 3600 Australian children three times during their first nine years of life. It is the largest study of its kind and the first to decisively show how crucial it is to get littlies nodding off earlier.
“This is valuable information for parents, many of whom will know about how important it is for their kids to get lots of sleep overall but not much about how significant the bedtime itself is,” says lead researcher Dr Jon Quach, of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne in Melbourne.
Dr Quach and colleagues from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and University of New England analysed sleep and lifestyle data collected from parents of children at ages four to five, six to seven and eight to nine.
Reaserchers divided children into four groups – those who were early to bed and early to rise, early to bed and late to rise, late to bed and late to rise and late to bed and early to rise.
Kids who were early to bed were asleep by 8.30pm, while late-to-bed kids fell asleep after this time.
Results show children who are early-to-sleep have better health-related quality of life, and this is the exciting bit – their mothers have improved mental health, compared with to the mothers of children who are late-to-sleep, because they get a little more ‘me’ time for their own interests, relationships and projects.
“So mums and dads, getting kids to bed early is not just great for them. It’s good for you too,” Dr Quach says.
“These benefits were seen in all early-to-bed kids regardless of whether they woke early or slept late.”
This article first appeared on ‘Australian Womens Weekly’ on 22 October 2015.