It may be best for parents to set a specific bedtime for their little kids, as a recent study on The Guardian reveals that  having an irregular sleeping schedule may affect cognitive development in children.

The study, initially published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was based on data from the UK Millenium Cohort Study (MCS).

Parents of the participants were surveyed about their kids' sleeping habits. Those who said that their kids "always" or "usually slept at a certain hour were put in the "regular bedtime" group, while those who said "sometimes" or "never" were categorized under the "irregular bedtime" group.

Researchers from University College London found that children who slightly underperformed in a battery of tests on basic math, reading, and design constructing were those who had no set sleeping schedules. Interestingly, the effect was most observed in girls who had irregular sleeping schedules at ages three, five, and seven.

Although the discrepancy in test scores were minimal, researchers say that having an irregular sleeping schedule may have a cumulative effect in the brain development of children.  

As sleep irregularities seemingly affect the brain's ability to learn and store new information, the authors of the study suggest that parents teach their children about having proper sleeping habits. Implement a set sleeping schedule for the kids, and don’t let them stay up too late.

(Photo by Jordan Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons)

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