The Importance of Sleep for School Success: Information for Parents
By Seth D. Laracy, Tamique J. Ridgard, and George J. DuPaul
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep disturbances can have a negative impact on children in a range of areas:
- Difficulties with learning and memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lower grades or academic struggles
- Increased irritability at home and at school
- Poor emotional control
- Increased disruptive behavior, aggression, and hyperactivity
- More stressful parent-child relationship
- Increase in accidental injuries
Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?
It is critical that children get enough sleep to have a successful day at school. Use these guidelines to make sure your child is getting enough sleep:
- Infants ages 3 to 12 months old should sleep 14 to 15 hours a day
- Toddlers ages 1 to 3 years old should sleep 12 to 14 hours a day
- Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 years old should sleep 11 to 13 hours a day
- School-age children ages 6 to 12 years old should sleep 10 to 11 hours a day
- Adolescents ages 12 to 18 years old should sleep 8.5 to 9.5 hours a day
The DO’S of a Bedtime Routine
An effective bedtime routine is important to help your child fall asleep easily and stay asleep. Here are some features of a good bedtime routine:
- Consistent: Try to complete the bedtime routine each night in the same place, at the same time, and in the same order.
- Brief: The bedtime routine should be about 30 minutes long.
- Focused on getting to bed: Each step of the bedtime routine should move closer to the child’s bed.
- Calming: Start the bedtime routine with relaxing activities such as a bath and putting on pajamas.
- Comfortable: Use the bedtime routine as an opportunity to spend quality time with your child doing quiet activities, such as reading a book.
- Ends in bed: To make sure your child associates bed with sleep, tuck your child into their own bed at the end of the bedtime routine.
The DON’TS of a Bedtime Routine
Here are things to avoid just before bedtime:
- High-energy activities such as running around or rough play.
- Screen time (e.g. computers, tablets, smartphones, video games, and television)
- Food, especially caffeine
Here are things to avoid during bedtime:
- Television in the bedroom: If your child has a television in his or her bedroom, it may be helpful to remove the remote control or power cord for the television at night.
- Cosleeping: Allow your child to fall asleep alone in his or her own bed.