The return to school means the return to a more regular sleep routine. Remote learning meant waking up later for most of our students, however this also meant later bedtimes as many struggled with their sleep habits during this time. Now that we are back to school, our students are needing to wake up earlier to eat breakfast, get dressed and make their way to school. This requires going to sleep earlier to ensure a good night’s rest. Not only will great sleep improve their health, but it will also benefit them academically.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep is like food for our brain and a healthy sleep is vital for school success. There is a clear correlation between getting enough sleep, and our ability to learn and process memories. Good sleeping habits provide us with energy, as well as the capabilities to concentrate and become better creative problem solvers. It can also help with creating a more positive emotional and physical wellbeing. This is particularly important for children and teenagers as their bodies and minds are growing quickly, and sleep fuels the brain allowing it to better develop. Achievement at school relies heavily on strengthening learning and memories. As you are learning more, your brain needs to consolidate all the newly acquired information. This means the more you learn, the more sleep you need. Essentially, sleep is as important as the air you breath and the water you drink.
Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Poor sleep will negatively impact children and more particularly, teenagers. It results in several physiological, emotional, and cognitive concerns which usually has adverse effects on academic achievements. These include:
- Poor ability to learn
- Rise in blood pressure
- Susceptibility to serious illness
- Eating too much, or eating the wrong foods
- Mood swings
- Problems with attention
- Low self-esteem/poor mental health
Are your Children Getting Enough Sleep?
There are some key signs to look out for to know whether your child is getting enough sleep. If your child is having difficulty waking up in the morning, trouble concentrating throughout the day, falling asleep during classes, or is feeling moody, then they’re most likely not getting the right amount of sleep.
The big question is then, how much sleep is enough sleep for my child?
According to the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep (ACES), as a guide they suggest:
- Ages 5 to 12: Need 10 to 12 hours per day
- Ages 13 to 18: Need 8 to 10 hours per day
Tips for Getting your Child into a Good Sleep Routine
- Give your child adequate time to wind down before going to sleep. Make sure they are having downtime at the end of the day as it will help them relax, ensuring a better sleep.
- Try ensuring they go to bed at the same time every night. Establish a bedtime and wake up time schedule, and try sticking to it, even on weekends. Consistent sleep times will help their body get into a routine, making it easier to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Limit the amount of time your children spend on their computers or phones. Ensure they are not on any screens at least an hour before bed. This will make it easier for their brains to wind down, especially if they struggle with falling asleep.
- Avoid giving your child any soft drinks, sugary food, or caffeine (even tea) later in the day as this will interfere with getting a good sleep.
- Don’t leave homework to the last minute! Aim for them to finish their homework and studies shortly after they get home from school. This will give their bodies and brain enough time to rest before bed.
- Keep your children’s bed for sleeping. Help them train their bodies and mind to associate bed with sleep only. Try to avoid doing homework, using their phone or computer, or playing games in bed.
- Exercising regularly will help tire their bodies and help them sleep better but try not to exercise in the evening close to bedtime.
It is important to remember that your children are going through a time where their brains and bodies are rapidly changing. As a parent or guardian, it is important to follow these tips in order help set guidelines for them and to support them along the way. Remind them of all the benefits of getting enough sleep, and that a good sleep is critical in achieving success at school.