Did you know your child’s sleep schedule can have a huge impact on their success in school? In fact, experts believe both an insufficient amount of sleep and later bedtimes can negatively affect your child’s GPA scores.
In a 2015 study, researchers assigned a group of children wrist devices that measured both the amount and quality of sleep. They found that, in addition to the reduced potential for total sleep offered by later bedtimes, kids who went to bed later tended to have poorer quality sleep. When they controlled for other factors, such as socioeconomic status and age, students with shorter, poor quality sleep showed a significant performance variable of 14% in math and 7% or more in language learning.
How Does Less Sleep Affect Your Child?
Overall grumpy mood and sluggishness in the morning and after school are often the first signs that your child needs more sleep. Other immediate effects of fatigue include lack of focus and even a propensity to fall asleep during the school day. It’s easy to see how a lack of sleep can begin to negatively affect school performance.
Can Lack of Sleep Lead to Stress and Depression?
Still, other issues may arise when a lack of sleep reaches its critical point. Since many studies show a correlation between stress, depression, and lack of sleep, it can often become a vicious cycle. A persistent lack of sleep can lead to stress and decreased school performance, which leads to more stress and even depression; eventually, the student’s struggles with class performance can further increase due to changes in mood, starting the whole process over again.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Really Need? Are 8 hours enough?
While the old adage requires eight hours of sleep per night, that figure applies more to the seven to nine hours of sleep recommended for young and middle-aged adults than it does school-aged children. In fact, from birth all the way up until young adulthood, the recommended number is actually higher for children than it is for parents. So, how much sleep does your student really need?
- Preschool-aged children (ages 3 to 5 years). Preschoolers’ sleep needs range from 10 to 13 hours per night, though an hour more or less is within the normal range.
- School-aged children (ages 6 to 13 years). Older children need slightly less sleep than preschoolers at nine to eleven hours per night, though some children perform better with as many as 13 hours.
- Teenagers (ages 14 to 17 years). Teenagers need fewer hours of sleep than younger children at eight to ten hours per night. However, teens may be at their best with closer to 12 hours of sleep.
Each Child is Different So Find the Best Sleep Solution That Works for Them
The ideal amount of sleep is an individual characteristic, so finding a sleep schedule that suits your child best is an important process – some children do best with even more sleep than is listed above. Providing your child the opportunity to sleep at least the recommended number of hours and ensuring no distractions occur within the designated sleeping hours are key to building good sleep habits that last through the high school and college years and beyond.