New research has uncovered one secret behind well-behaved kids: they have regular bedtimes. The study, published today in Pediatrics, asked parents and teachers to rank the behavior of more than 10,000 7-year-olds, finding those without a consistent bedtime were reported as more hyperactive and with more social and emotional problems. And the longer they went without going to sleep at a set time, the worse their behavior became, LiveScience reports. Fortunately, the study also found that the problem is reversible: the behavior of kids who switched to a regular sleep pattern noticeably improved.
"Not having fixed bedtimes, accompanied by a constant sense of flux, induces a state of body and mind akin to jet lag and this matters for healthy development and daily functioning," says study author Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, per the Guardian. "It follows that disruptions to sleep, especially if they occur at key times in development, could have important lifelong impacts on health." Still, she warns, sleep could just be one reason your kid is a pain in the ass. "There are lots of things that have beneficial effects," she says, per the New York Times. "Having a regular bedtime is only one of them." (Read more scientific study stories.)