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Poor sleeping patterns may stunt children’s brain power

Published on 09/07/2013

Late-night sleeping times and irregular sleeping patterns during a child’s early development may disrupt their brain power when they grow up, a new study has found.

Regular sleeping patterns may be better for a child's brain development

Scientists analysed data from 11,000 seven-year-old children to investigate any link between bedtime sleeping patterns and their brain power in later life.

The study was carried out by the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and was published in the online journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The MSC worked with children aged three, five and seven year-old children, and their families, who were born in the UK between 2000 and 2002.

The children were tested in three key areas of their development; reading, mathematics and spatial awareness. This was cross-checked with their sleep patterns to see if there was and relationship between the two.

The authors of the study believe that irregular bedtimes can contribute to poor brain development which could lead to more problems in later life.

They said: “Our findings suggest that inconsistent bedtimes, especially at very young ages and/or throughout early childhood, are linked to children's cognitive development.

"Relations between inconsistent bedtimes and aspects of early child development may have knock-on effects for health and broader social outcomes throughout the life course."

Scientists believe that disruptive sleeping patterns can cause the brain’s physics natural ability to be undermined by sleep deprivation.

The researchers found that children aged three had the most disruptive bedtimes with 20% of them having irregular bedtimes. By the age of seven, more than half of all children went to bed between 7.30pm and 8pm.

Both boys and girls who had irregular sleeping patterns at three years of age had lower scores in all three of the tested development areas.

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