Latest study suggests that a bedtime routine results in better sleep in children who are six years old and below.

Jodi Mindell, a psychology professor at Saint Joseph's University, says that children benefit from having a nightly bedtime routine.

The study found that the practice of a bedtime routine results in a shorter amount of time spent awake before falling asleep, reduced wakings in the night and an increased duration of sleep.

Having a bedtime routine may also be linked with decreased daytime behavioral problems and sleep problems.

Developing a nightly bedtime routine for children is simple, and families should focus on the advantages of the practice.

Mindell believes undertaking positive bedtime habits makes bedtime easier for children. A bedtime routine is also likely to make children sleep properly for the entire night.

Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says that it is quite important for all parents to ensure that their children have a sleep schedule and soothing sleeping environments.

The study also found that the frequency of a bedtime routine also results in better sleep in children.

"For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep," said Mindell. "It's like other healthy practices: doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best."

The multinational study involved more than 10,000 mothers from over 14 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S.

All the participants completed a questionnaire, which covered questions regarding the sleeping patterns of their children, both in the day and at night. The mothers were also asked if their children had a specific sleeping routine. The questionnaire was actually translated in several languages, and the responses were translated back into English.

Research showed about 50 percent of the mothers said that their children did not have a sleep routine.

The findings were universal across children in different regions of the world. A nightly sleep routine was seen as beneficial to children in all the countries where mothers were surveyed.

The study is published in the journal Sleep.

Photo: Amanda Truss | Flickr

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