Children going to bed at a fixed time every night have a much better sleep than those who do not follow a bedtime routine, suggests a study involving over 10,000 mothers from 14 countries.
The positive impacts that increase with the consistency of the nightly routine include earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration.
The researchers found that children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine.
"Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do," said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph's University in the US.
"It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night," Mindell said.
Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems as perceived by mothers.
"The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal," Mindell said.
"It doesn't matter if you are a parent of a young child in the US, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference," Mindell said.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child's bedtime.
Such activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.
The findings appeared in the journal Sleep