Getting kids to go to bed can be a struggle at any age, from the time they’re babies until they’re teenagers. But when it comes to how well they do in school, sleep plays a critical role in their success.
“Not having enough sleep can be very disruptive to students,” said Frank H. Biscardi, M.D., from the department of Department of Pulmonology, Critical Care, Sleep and Environmental Medicine at Carilion Clinic. “They need to have a consistent sleep pattern and bedtime routine to thrive during the school day.”
Kids who don’t get enough sleep can have trouble paying attention, processing information, managing their emotions and staying awake in school. From preschool through college, sleep provides energy, improves mood and helps kids perform better academically.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, children need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night at the preschool age and 8 to 10 hours for teenagers.
Below are tips from Dr. Biscardi on how to set your children up to succeed by managing their sleep habits:
- Be consistent – If a child doesn’t get enough sleep day after day, they will develop “sleep debt,”, a state of being chronically sleep deprived that can cause cognitive and behavioral problems. Encourage your kids to establish good sleep habits as early as possible.
- Unplug – The bright light from electronics is disruptive and affects the body’s circadian rhythms, or internal clock. Electronics can create problems falling asleep or even cause insomnia. Avoid the use of electronics for at least one hour before bedtime.
- Set limits – It is much better for parents to establish an appropriate bedtime than to allow kids to decide for themselves when to go to sleep. To make sure your child gets enough sleep, set a regular bedtime and avoid letting kids have distractions like TVs in their bedrooms.
If you think your child may have a sleep disorder like narcolepsy, insomnia or sleep apnea, make an appointment with their primary care physician.
To learn more about the connection between kids, sleep and school performance, visit the National Sleep Foundation.