To investigate the associations of caregiver-reported use of language-based bedtime routines among preschoolers at age 3 with children's nighttime sleep duration, and cognitive, behavioral and health outcomes at age 5. Further, to identify if parental or household characteristics help explain these associations.
Patients and Methods
We use data on 4,274 children from birth to age 5, drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCW), a longitudinal birth cohort study of at-risk children born between 1998 and 2000 in 20 US cities. We use ordinary least squares (for continuous outcomes) and logistic regressions (for dichotomous outcomes) to estimate associations of language-based bedtime routines at age 3 with sleep duration, and cognitive, behavioral and health outcomes at age 5, net of a host of child and family background characteristics.
After adjustment for child and family characteristics, we observed a positive association between language-based bedtime routines and both nighttime sleep duration and verbal test scores. Language-based bedtime routines were also inversely associated with behavior problems (anxious, withdrawn, and aggressive behaviors) and positively associated with better general health, yet adjustment for family background characteristics attenuated these associations. No associations were found between language-based bedtime routines and obesity. Results were confirmed using propensity score matching.
This research suggests regular use of language-based bedtime routines including singing, reading, and/or story-telling at bedtime may have a lasting positive benefit for children's sleep duration and cognitive development; we find little evidence of such a benefit for child behavior or health.