BOSTON (WHDH) — Getting young children to bed can be quite the task for parents. Today, a new study actually links inconsistent bedtimes with misbehavior.
New mother Angelique Millette makes putting a baby to sleep look easy, and teaches other parents about good sleep habits.
"When babies don't get enough sleep, it starts to impact their behavior. It disorganizes them," said Angelique Millette, Pediatric Sleep Consultant.
New research confirms Angelique is right. A study of more than 10,000 children in the UK links irregular bedtimes with behavior problems.
Kids who did not have a consistent bedtime from an early age through childhood were more likely to misbehave by the time they were seven years old.
Those behavior problems were not diagnosed by doctors but by those who know kids best: teachers and mothers.
"Most parents know just from looking at their children, they know when they're sleepy and not sleepy based on their behavior," said Gary Montgomery, MD Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Sleep Center.
While the study does not prove irregular bedtimes cause bad behavior the researchers found the problem can be reversed.
When kids got back on track with a regular bedtime, their mood – and behavior – improved.
"The child gets a lot of satisfaction and security from that predictability each night," Montgomery said.
Sleep experts recommend evening reading and warn nighttime is not the time for TV or texting.
"Part of making sleep changes or using a sleep solution is a little bit about setting a limit and being consistent with that limit and that's not always easy to do," said Millette.
It's all about setting ground rules for settling down and creating a familiar cadence for bedtime from the very beginning.
In the current study, parents and teachers completed a questionnaire that assessed children's behaviors: including hyperactivity, conduct problems and problems with friends.