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Earlier bedtimes, healthier lifetimes

Tucking little ones in by 8 p.m. sets them up for better health

That constant struggle to get your kids in bed each night? Turns out it’s doing much more than just giving you an extra hour of quiet time before your own bedtime.

Preschoolers who are regularly tucked in by 8 p.m. are far less likely to become obese teenagers than peers who go to sleep later, according to a study at The Ohio State University. A bedtime of just one hour later — 9 p.m. — doubles the likelihood of obesity later in life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity can set up kids for a lifetime of struggling with weight and related health complications.

Sarah Anderson, associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State, said the study’s findings reinforce for parents the importance of an established bedtime routine.

“It is something concrete that families can do to lower their child’s risk, and it’s also likely to have positive benefits on behavior and on social, emotional and cognitive development,” Anderson said.

Researchers know that a standard bedtime isn’t always easy to come by. Later bedtimes were more common in children who were not white, whose moms had less education and who lived in lower-income households.

And what about parents and older siblings getting up and out the door early in the morning?

It leads to young children getting up early as well — making it all the more important to get them in bed earlier. Sure, they might not fall asleep right away, but establishing that bedtime routine makes it more likely they’ll get the sleep they need — and the building blocks of a healthy weight later in life