Parents who actively enforce bedtime rules for their children may help them get adequate sleep, an important determinant of health, new research shows.
Lack of sleep in children is known to cause poor attention, worse grades, school absences, poor social interaction, irritability and crankiness, depression and increased risk-taking behaviour.
“Sleep is increasingly being recognised as an important determinant of health, and an integral component of healthy living for children, integrated with other behaviours such as physical activity and sedentary time,” said Heather Manson, chief (health promotion, chronic disease and injury prevention) at Public Health Ontario in Canada.
According to the researchers, the number of children meeting the guidelines increased between ages 5 and 9 years, but declined between 10 and 17 years.
Children aged 15, showed the greatest difference between weekday and weekend sleep, with 38.3% fewer children meeting guidelines on the weekends compared to the weekdays.
“Parents enforcing a bedtime on the weekday could help support their child to achieve sufficient sleep,” Manson said.
For the study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, the team used self-reported data from over 1,600 parents with at least one child under the age of 18 years.
Around 94% of parents reported encouraging their child to go to bed at a specific time, and just over 84% reported enforcing bedtime rules. Parents who reported enforcing bedtime rules were 59% more likely to have their child meeting sleep guidelines on a weekday, the researchers said.