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Set bedtimes do more for children than ensure a good night's rest -- they make kids healthier, a new study suggests.
"Bedtimes are good for sleep, and sleep is good for healthy children," researcher Lauren Hale told ParentDish.
Hale recently studied the bedtime routines of 3-year-olds and concluded that health educators should do more to encourage parents to establish bedtimes and bedtime routines.
The study published online in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that children from disadvantaged households are less likely to have consistent bedtimes than their peers in advantaged households.
"What we find is that disadvantaged populations or lower-education populations have worse health outcomes and it turns out they have worse sleep problems," Hale told CNN.com.
Bedtime routines -- reading, bathing and singing -- are important because they help children fall asleep faster and sleep better, said Hale, an assistant professor of preventative health at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York.
And a better night's sleep means better health and grades, said Dr. William Cotton, medical director of the primary care network at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He encourages parents to establish and enforce bedtimes.
"You need to give children all the advantages you can," he said. "It's all part of good health."
DO YOU FOLLOW A STRICT BED TIME SCHEDULE? IF SO WHAT IS IT? IF NOT WHY?