A new study has found a link between inconsistent bedtimes in preschool, and behavior problems in second grade. An article in the journal Pediatrics says that inconsistent bedtimes for preschoolers have a similar effect to jet lag, and the sleep deficit the children build up impacts their behavior.
I’ve seen this in my classes. I once knew a boy I thought might have special needs, as he was extremely clumsy (falling off trikes, for example), always spaced out, slow to talk, and unengaged in classroom activities. It turned out that he was seriously sleep-deprived. His parents didn’t get home until late, so they made their children stay up until at least 11 each night so they could have time with them. The parents slept in each morning, but the nanny got the kids up and took them to school, where….they didn’t learn much.
I’ve also had kids with behavior issues who fought their parents at bedtime, and so the parents gave up and let them go to bed whenever they wanted. That had a big impact on how they acted in the classroom.
Preschoolers need 11 hours a night, starting at a consistent time, preferably with a consistent routine. I hope the message gets out!