Sleep: A Back to School Essential

Sleep: A Back to School Essential

Posted in Family
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The start of a new term means a return to regular bedtimes and morning routines in homes across the country. However, things don’t always go as smoothly as planned.

Being back at school can make kids over excited and extra tired. This is never a great recipe for relaxing evenings. If bedtime battles are a common occurrence in your household, arm yourselves with these sleep facts. This way you can help the students in your midst understand just how important sleep is.


The state of sleep


If you’re a parent, we don’t need to tell you how lack of sleep can affect your child’s mood. Tired and uncooperative pupils are something that the UK’s teachers are coming up against more frequently. This can only be an exhausting prospect for all involved. It also hinders the learning for the whole classroom.

One survey carried out by the Sleep Council in 2012 found that two thirds of teachers consider the lack of quality sleep a real problem. Many believe that the long term progress of pupils may be at risk. Nearly half (48 per cent) stated that lack of sleep led to unruly behaviour.


A boy and a girl on their way to school.


Learning and sleep


Sleep is vital for brain development, which is why babies need more sleep than adults. Although it’s not quite clear what parts the different phases of sleep play in solidifying learning and memories, it is recognised that neural connections are made during slumber.

According to Harvard University, sleep deprivation has serious consequences for learning. It impacts our ability to collect new information. It also affects our capability to store and retrieve it. This drastically hinders the learning process.

If you’d like to persuade your child to go to bed to help improve their mood and learning, there are lots of scientific studies on your side. One US study asked teachers to rate the performance of children when they went to bed later than usual, versus having at least 10 hours in bed.

The teachers were not told which sleep pattern was in play. When students had less sleep, teachers found they struggled with attention and learning. Another American study found a correlation between amount of sleep and grades attained by high achievers. Students who reported getting more sleep were getting better grades.


Two kids playing in a bedroom den.


Playing and sleep


Children don’t just go to school to learn though. They also socialise, play and have fun. Such activities can be difficult when they’re lacking in energy. Not only is poor sleep linked to obesity, it can also cause behavioural issues. A Finnish study found that children who were reported to have less sleep each day were three to five times more likely of developing attention, behaviour and psychiatric problems.

Is your family struggling to get back into a regular sleep routine now school has started? Perhaps it’s time to hone your morning or evening schedules so that you can all get some extra time in bed?

For guidance on how much sleep your child should be getting, take a look at our blog post how much sleep does my child need?