Sleep Routines and School Performance
One of the first things you should ask yourself is, “are my children getting enough sleep?” Studies show younger children who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for accidents and problems in learning, mood and behavior. Sleep-deprived kids can even be mistakenly thought to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because the symptoms of sleep deprivation closely mirror those of ADHD
We’re starting to ask parents, when their children come to school groggy and unfocused, “what time does your child go to bed?” Often, it’s too late. One reason for this is that many kids live by their parents’ schedule, meaning they’re getting to bed late, rising early and averaging about eight hours of sleep a night. But eight is not enough when it comes to kids and sleep. Research cited in a recent Newsweek article recommended 10.5 hours for sixth graders. We suspect the optimum time for Cherry Valley students is even longer.
Recent Studies
In the March/April issue of Child Development, it was reported that one extra hour of sleep significantly improved school performance. Children with an added hour of sleep significantly improved their performance on tests assessing attention span and memory; children who lost an hour of sleep performed significantly poorer than they had before they were sleep-deprived.
Experiment
You can test if your child is getting enough sleep by having him or her go to sleep an hour earlier. If he or she starts to perform better after a week on that regime, then you know that they were not getting enough sleep.
Tips
Experts offer the following tips for parents to help get their kids to bed:
-Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it.
-Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading him or her a story.
-Avoid giving children a big meal close to bedtime, and no caffeine within six hours of sleep.
-Make after-dinner playtime relaxing; too much exercise close to bedtime can keep children awake.
-Keep the noise level down and the bedroom dark. If some light is necessary, use a small nightlight
More Information
The Sleep Foundation offers some useful tips for parents seeking to improve their children’s’ sleep habits. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a special program for kids to encourage sound sleep habits.