ABILENE, Texas - Ask any parent: little ones can be a big challenge when they're behaving badly. New research suggests a consistent bed time may be what many of these kids need to get back on track.
"Their brain is developing all kinds of new pathways and one of the benefits of a good night's sleep is you're taking the days activities and organizing them as you're asleep," said Dr. Ted Dyer, the Medical Director of the sleep lab at Hendrick Medical Center.
A new study out of the UK reveals some interesting facts; children who didn't have a regular bedtime, or went to bed later than 9 p.m. were more likely to have behavioral issues.
"They may get eight or nine hours but the quality is not as good if it's not consistently going to sleep and getting up at the same time. Unfortunately, a lot of those kids with inconsistent bed times also have a very unstructured life," said Dr. Dyer.
He's right. They were also more likely to skip breakfast and watch more than three hours of TV a day. So to test whether sleep habits were to blame, the researchers asked parents to institute a regular bedtime. The kids showed marked improvements in behavior, both at home and school.
So will an earlier bedtime be key to ending behavior problems?
"It's certainly not the one cure all for any behavioral problems. They need to have a structured life, eat well and sleep well," said Dr. Dyer.
It may not be a cure all but it's certainly a good start. Doctors say that consistent bed time can decrease a child's agitation levels as well as fighting with their peers.
How much sleep a child needs varies with their age. To see a chart of the recommended amount of sleep for your child CLICK HERE