Bedtime routines: a dynamic, repetitive set of behaviours and their implications for child wellbeing, health and development

Student thesis: Phd


Bedtime routines represent one of the most common family activities. Bedtime routines are comprised of different activities that families with young children undertake the hour before bed. These activities range from hygiene activities (tooth brushing, etc.) to dietary behaviours (snacks, drinks before bed, etc.) and literacy-related activities (book reading, etc.). Generally, there is little information on the mechanisms involved in the formation of bedtime routines and the implications of those different activities to child wellbeing and development. Quality of sleep is the area that has drawn the majority of research interest regarding bedtime routines and children. A mixed methods approach was used combining quantitative data collection, interviews with parents, a systematic review and Public and Patient Involvement. Additionally, an innovative method of assessing bedtime routines through the use of text surveys was developed as part of this work. Overall, the mixed methods approach and innovative bedtime routine assessment were used to develop a greater understanding of this highly recurrent, dynamic family activity and its implications for child wellbeing and development. Based on findings from each study, there were observable differences in the quality of bedtime routines across different families, with those differences affecting child wellbeing and development. More specifically, children with suboptimal bedtime routines presented with higher prevalence of dental caries, lower school readiness and lower executive function. Also, parents who implemented suboptimal bedtime routines followed more rigid parenting styles and also showed lower executive function scores when compared to parents with optimal bedtime routines. Results also highlighted the effectiveness of text surveys in assessing and enhancing our understanding around bedtime routines with minimal intrusion and high participant feedback. The qualitative piece of this research indicated that parents want and try hard to have a good bedtime routine however, factors such as cognitive tiredness, lack of support and motivation can result in problematic bedtime routines being established and maintained.
Date of Award31 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorIain Pretty (Supervisor), Michaela Goodwin (Supervisor) & Michael Kelly (Supervisor)


  • parents
  • dental health
  • public health
  • text messages
  • school readiness
  • family
  • development
  • wellbeing
  • child
  • bedtime routines
  • behaviour change
  • executive function

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