Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond.

TitleBenefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMindell JA, Williamson AA
JournalSleep Med Rev
Date Published2018 08
KeywordsChild Development, Child Welfare, Child, Preschool, Habits, Humans, Parent-Child Relations, Sleep Hygiene, Time Factors

This paper presents a conceptual model and reviews the empirical evidence to support a nightly bedtime routine as a key factor in the promotion of not only healthy sleep, but also of broad development and wellbeing in early childhood. A bedtime routine embodies the characteristics of nurturing care and early child stimulation, which are deemed to be essential for positive outcomes, especially for at-risk children. Furthermore, common, adaptive components of a bedtime routine can contribute to an array of positive developmental outcomes beyond improved sleep, inclusive of language development, literacy, child emotional and behavioral regulation, parent-child attachment, and family functioning, among other outcomes. These bedtime routine components include activities in the broad domains of nutrition (e.g., feeding, healthy snack), hygiene (e.g., bathing, oral care), communication (e.g., reading, singing/lullabies) and physical contact (e.g., massage, cuddling/rocking). A bedtime routine can provide multiple benefits to child and family functioning at a time of day that many parents are present with their children. Although additional research on hypothesized routine-related child outcomes and mechanisms of action are needed, promoting a bedtime routine may be a feasible and cost-effective method to promote positive early childhood development worldwide, particularly for socioeconomically disadvantaged and other at-risk young children.

Alternate JournalSleep Med Rev
PubMed ID29195725
PubMed Central IDPMC6587181
Grant ListL40 HD093230 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
T32 HL007953 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States