Importance of Sleep

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Every individual needs sleep. The amount of sleep varies from infancy to adult hood. The amount of sleep for school-aged children (ages six to 13) is critical as they are developing and learning.

Children aged six to 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep. After a full day at school, there are additional demands on their time with after school activities, sports, and play time to mention a few. Also, there are additional draws for their attention such as television, computers, internet – all of which can be deterrents to a good night sleep (resisting bedtime, difficulty falling asleep, and sleeping fewer hours).

Sleep problems and disorders are common at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school.

Signs of not getting enough sleep in school-aged children include:

  1. Mood: Sleep deprivation may cause your school-aged child to be moody, irritable, and cranky. In addition, he may have a difficult time regulating his mood, such as by getting frustrated or upset more easily.

  2. Behavior: School-aged children who do not get enough sleep are more likely to have behavior problems, such as noncompliance and hyperactivity.

  3. Cognitive ability: Inadequate sleep may result in problems with attention, memory.

  4. Decision Making: Reaction time, and creativity, all which are important in school.” (2018 Nationwide Sleep Foundation)

There are several things that can be done to help your school-aged child have a better night’s sleep:

  1. Develop a regular sleep schedule: Your child should go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.

  2. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine: School-aged children continue to benefit from a bedtime routine that is the same every night and includes calm and enjoyable activities.

  3. One-on-one time: Including one-on-one time with a parent is helpful in maintaining communication with your child and having a clear connection every day.

  4. Set up a soothing sleep environment: Make sure your child’s bedroom is comfortable, dark, cool, and quiet. A nightlight is fine; a television is not.

  5. Set limits: If your school-aged child stalls at bedtime, be sure to set clear limits, such as what time lights must be turned off and how many bedtime stories you will read.

  6. Turn off electronics: Television viewing, computer-game playing, internet use, and other stimulating activities at bedtime will cause sleep problems.

  7. Avoid sugar and caffeine: Caffeine can be found in sodas, coffee-based products, iced tea, and many other substances.” (2019 Nationwide Children’s Hospital)

References: Children and Sleep, 2018 National Sleep Foundation; Sleep in School-aged Children,  2019 Nationwide Children’s Hospital