Sleep is important for all of us and can often affect how our day goes, our mental state or our general wellbeing. However, for children sleep plays a much more significant role as it helps their growth and development. With recent studies indicating that many children and teenagers don’t actually get enough sleep, here at Tutor Doctor we wanted to spread the word about just how important it is that your child is getting a good night’s rest!
Why does sleep matter?
Sleep plays a significant role in your child’s development, meaning 8 – 9.5 hours a night is crucial for their bodies to grow. As well as growth, sleep is also important for rest and recuperation. Let’s not forget that many children often have very busy days at school, learning, socialising and working hard, meaning their recovery and rest time is vital for them to thrive academically and socially. A Harvard study even discovered that the brain continues to learn after you fall asleep. This is when it consolidates information and works through processes or steps learnt the day before.
What can happen if my child/teen isn’t getting enough sleep?
Studies have proven that not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences for children and teenagers. Dr. Avi Sadeh, a lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv found that “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.” Here are a few other areas that can be affected if your child isn’t getting enough rest!
Immune system- Lack of sleep reduces the efficiency of your child’s immune system, meaning they will be more vulnerable to any illnesses they are exposed to at school. Illness often leads to time off, which can contribute to poor academic attendance and reduced learning.
Brain Function- Sleep plays a vital role in our brain’s day-to-day ability to function. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to concentrate and can cause forgetfulness, irritability, clumsiness and problems with behaviour.
Puberty- Sleep for teenagers is crucial as whilst they are snoozing a hormone that is essential for the growth spurt during puberty is released.
Falling asleep at school- A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that around 60% of high-school students suffered from extreme daytime fatigue, causing them to regularly fall asleep in their lessons.
Weight Gain- Lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain as it prevents the production of appetite-controlling hormones.
How much sleep does my child need?
On average children between the ages of 5 and 12 will ideally need around 9.5 hours a night. This reduces slightly as they get older and for teenagers aged 12 – 18, around 8.5 – 9 hours of sleep is recommended.
It’s also important to remember that sleep does depend on the individual and some children may need more rest than others. Take into account what they have been up to and if it has been a particularly busy or active day you may need to encourage an earlier bedtime!
How can I encourage my child to get enough sleep?
Bedtimes aren’t always the easiest thing to stick to and are often resisted by many children who want to stay up late. However, they are imperative if you want to make sure your kids are getting their 8-9.5 hours a night.
A really easy way to help your child start to feel sleepy is for them to avoid computers, games and academic tasks at least two hours before bedtime. Instead get them to have a bath, put on their pjs and read a book. This is likely to make them feel sleepy and more inclined to go to bed on time. Eventually it will become routine and maybe even an enjoyable and relaxing part of their day.
For younger children a bedtime chart may be a good place to start. Every day that they go to bed on time, you can tick the chart. To make things a little more fun, you could even offer a small treat if they complete 30 days in a row. Genius!
Remember the right amount of sleep is just as important for your child as healthy eating and exercise! If you want to help them excel academically but also be healthier and happier, then getting an early night is a step in the right direction.