Stop by here to read about how sleep can impact your child.
Sleep or lack of sleep, definitely does impact the academic performance of a child or adolescent. In the last seven years more than 30 studies have demonstrated that shortened total sleep time, erratic sleep/wake schedules, fragmented sleep, late bedtimes and rise times and poor sleep quality are associated with poorer school performances (Buckhalt, Wolfson, & El-Sheikh, 2009). These school outcomes results have included teacher ratings, grades, individual tests of neurocognitive functioning and comprehensive norm-referenced intelligence batteries (Buckhalt et al, 2009). Poor school performance studies have focused on sleep/wake patterns and academic grades. The studies suggest that children with erratic sleep schedules, sleep-in on weekends, who take a long time to fall asleep and have overall sleepiness, do worse in school (Buckhalt et al., 2009). These studies were done a wide age range of children.
Of interesting note is that several studies have been done with children to assess cognitive performance after sleep has been restricted by as little as one hour per night. When sleep was restricted, there was notable diminished cognitive performance in the children (Buckhalt et al., 2009). Attention Deficit Disorder is anissue linking poor sleep hygiene and mental health (Buckhalt et al., 2009). Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) is a rapidly growing diagnosis of child that may have its roots in poor sleep habits for some children diagnosed.
In addition to sleep affecting academic performance, poor sleep hygiene can impact a child’s health by inducing stress and then stress induced illnesses, which will impact the child’s performance at school, especially if they are missing class because they are sick. In 2007 there was a long-term study done on 1037 people to assess for childhood sleep time and long term risk for obesity. The study, conducted by Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Dept. of preventative and social medicine, Dunedine School of Medicine and University of Otag found that shorter childhood sleep times were significantly associated with higher adult BMI values (Landhuis, Poulton, Welch & Hancox, 2007).
Therefore, proper sleep habits, that include not just enough time in bed, but rather a consistent route of going to bed, waking and getting enough sleep contribute to better academic performance. In Singapore there is much pressure to do the required schooling plus additional tuition and training, however if a child is not well rested the child’s ability to take in all the information and synthesis it will be compromised.
What can you as parents do? Make sure that you establish good sleep hygiene at an early age. This means having a regular bedtime that is age appropriate and respects the amount of time the child needs to spend in bed. Establish a consistent and repeatable bedtime routine at a young age so that going to bed is fun and not a battle. Make sure your child knows how to fall asleep unassisted so that by one year of age they are sleep though the night without waking (sleeping through the night is considered 9 ½ hours in a row).
If you have concerns contact Tammy Fontana at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written: Tammy Fontana, Babysleepfairy.com 2009
Buckhalt, J. A., Wolfson, A. R. & El-Sheikh, M (2009). Children’s sleep and school psychology practice. School Psychology Quarterly, 24(1), 60-69.Landhuis C.E., Poulton, R., Welch, D., Hancox, R. J. (2007). Childhood sleep time and long-term risk for Obesity: A 32- year prospective birth cohort study. Pediatrics, 122(5), 955-960
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