London, Oct 15 (IANS): Children with irregular bedtime habits are more prone to behavioural problems but adhering to a defined sleep regime improves behaviour, says a study.
The study published in the Journal Paediatrics, found that irregular bedtimes could disrupt natural body rhythms and cause sleep deprivation, undermining brain maturation and the ability to regulate certain behaviours.
"Not having fixed bedtimes, accompanied by a constant sense of flux, induces a state of body and mind akin to jet lag" and this affects healthy development and daily functioning, said Yvonne Kelly, professor at University College London Epidemiology and Public Health.
Jet lag is a physiological condition which results from alterations to one's daily cycle of activity. It is classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
"We know that early child development has profound influences on health and well-being on life. It follows that disruptions to sleep, especially if it occurs at key times during development, could have lifelong impacts on health," said Kelly.
As children progressed without a regular bedtime, their behavioural scores -- which include hyperactivity, behaviour, problems with peers and emotional difficulties -- worsened.
However, children who switched to a more regular bedtime had clear improvements in their behaviour, reports a Science Daily.