A study has shown youngsters who had regular bedtimes were better at languages, reading and maths than those than did not.
Those who went to bed earlier than most were even more likely to pick things up more quickly.
However, pre-school children who had less than the recommended 11 hours of sleep a night ran the risk of falling behind.
The research, conducted by scientists at SRI International, an independent, non-profit research institute in California, centred on developmental outcomes of children aged four.
In the largest study of its kind to date, the team used a sample of around 8,000 children who completed a developmental assessment at four years of age.
The analysis also included information on bedtimes from parent phone interviews when their child was nine months old and again when their child was four.
The findings indicated having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes.
Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early maths abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed.
Meanwhile having an earlier bedtime was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.
Dr Erika Gaylor, who led the study, said:
"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills. Paediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviours which in turn lead to healthy sleep."
Dr Gaylor recommended parents set an appropriate time for their child to go to bed so they get sufficient levels of sleep.