Good Sleep Habits for Children: Early Consistent Bedtime, No Evening TV

Dr Abi Fisher PhD Senior Researcher, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre University College LondonMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Abi Fisher PhD
Senior Researcher, Cancer Research UK
Health Behaviour Research Centre
University College London

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Fisher: Getting sufficient sleep at night is essential to the health and development of young children. Before the age of 5 years, children who regularly sleep less than 11 hours a night are at an increased risk of poor health, so understanding the factors that determine short sleep is very important. Some key factors were related to shorter sleep in our study, including being from ethnic minority backgrounds, lower socioeconomic groups and watching more than an hour of television in the evening. Whilst these factors have been related to childhood sleep in previous studies, ours was the first to show that  the effects of these variables on children’s sleep may be operating through a later bedtime.


MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Fisher: These findings are important as they can be used to give parents, caregivers and health professionals constructive advice on how to improve child sleep; an emphasis on an early and consistent bedtime could help promote healthy sleep. Parents should also be encouraged not to allow evening television viewing.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Fisher: Our study was observational, so randomised controlled trials should be carried out with short sleeping children and their families, to determine whether introducing earlier bedtimes do indeed improve sleep length and quality and improve health outcomes.

Citation:

Predictors of Shorter Sleep in Early Childhood

Laura McDonald, Jane Wardle, Clare H. Llewellyn, Cornelia H.M. van Jaarsveld, Abigail Fisher

Sleep Medicine – 10 February 2014 (10.1016/j.sleep.2014.01.005)

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