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Kids need regular bedtimes: Here's how a child professional would do it

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Marcel Ozama/Simon & Schuster

(Read caption) Bed time can affect children's test scores. Drawing from the Bed, Bed, Bed, Bed, Bed Song by They Might Be Giants.

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As every parent knows, bedtime can make or break a night. A perfect night filled with snuggles and pillow talk can make both child and parent wish the night would never end. Other nights can leave parents feeling more like hog wranglers or hostage negotiators.

The unpredictability around bedtime can carry a degree of uncertainty and anxiety for both parents and children. Now it seems that having a varied bedtime could put kids at a disadvantage in school, according to a new study from The University College London, which links irregular bedtimes to reduced test scores in young children. 

The idea that inconsistent sleeping schedules can negatively impact children (and their families) is nothing new. Every parent knows that delayed bedtimes can lead to difficulties in the morning that can continue throughout the day. 

However, establishing a consistent bedtime routine is easier said than done. 

Here are a few tips for establishing a routine bringing consistency to the end of the day. 

Establish a lights-out bedtime and work backward to build a routine.

If bedtime is 8:30 p.m., that means that teeth should be brushed, pajamas should be on, and stories should be finished by 8:30 p.m. By setting a lights-out time rather than a time to start to get ready for bed, parents can defer to the clock when kids ask for one more story, another drink of water, or whatever their latest stalling tactic may be. 

If kids know that the lights are going to turn off on schedule, regardless of whether or not parents have read aloud from bedtime books, they will be less likely to dawdle through tasks like brushing teeth and taking a bath. 

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