Bedtime routines in early childhood: prevalence, consistency, and associations with nighttime sleep

Monogr Soc Res Child Dev. 2015 Mar;80(1):141-59. doi: 10.1111/mono.12149.


The ability to transition from wakefulness to sleep is one of the most important tasks in the development of sleep during early childhood. Although establishing regular bedtime routines for children with sleep problems can be clinically effective in reducing the number of signaled night awakenings and increasing amount of sleep, it is unclear whether a regular bedtime routine would be associated with either the frequency of signaled night awakenings or nightly sleep minutes in a nonclinical sample of children. This study examined the role of a regular bedtime routine on the development of sleep regulation and consolidation in a community sample of young children. Adherence to a bedtime routine was concurrently associated with a greater amount of nightly sleep at 36 and 42 months. In addition, adherence to a bedtime routine predicted an increase in nightly sleep minutes over a 6-month period. Finally, this study demonstrated that adherence to a bedtime routine was particularly supportive of developmental gains for children of mothers who used consistent parenting practices during the day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / methods
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology*