Sleep at night to learn in the day
PARENTS often ask: what can be done to improve my child’s learning? While there are many things at the school level, what happens at home can also impact on a child’s wellbeing and learning outcomes.
Parents play an important role in encouraging and modelling good habits especially around such things as technology use, nutrition and sleep. Research shows that sleep is not only beneficial to a child’s long-term health and wellbeing but also has an impact on their academic performance.
When young people are not getting enough sleep, they may find it harder to concentrate during the day and retain new information.
Studies in the US have shown that high school students who reported longer sleep times at night had higher grades.
The research suggests more than 30 per cent of Australian primary students are not getting sufficient sleep each night with Australian teenagers among the most sleep-deprived in the world.
One of the reasons suggested for the increase in sleep disturbance was exposure to mobile devices especially before bedtime.
Not only can the type of content keep them awake but the blue light emitted from digital (TV, laptops, phones, tablets, etc) and LED lighting interferes with the natural hormone melatonin.
Melatonin sends a message to the brain that it is time to sleep.
The recommendation is that children as well as adults have at least an hour gap between being on a device and sleep time. Remov- ing technology from bedrooms is important as well as having a consistent shutdown time every night.
It is suggested that preschoolers (three to five years) need 10-13 hours a night, school-aged children (six to 13 years) require nine to 11 hours and teenagers (14-17 years) about eight to 10 hours.
While sleep routines are the domain of parents and carers, schools can also be of support. There are many examples of schools that have introduced earlier or later start times to ensure school doesn’t interfere with sleep.