Better, more quality, sleep can make for better grades.
Bad news for parents, but you might need to start enforcing that bedtime curfew.
While no one likes a bedtime battle, a new study shows that a good night's sleep can translate to improved academic performance. Researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal found that children who had a better quality sleep performed better in math and languages.
Specifically researchers found a link between academic performance and something called sleep efficiency, which is more or less how well you sleep at night. “Sleep efficiency is the proportion of the amount of time you slept to the amount of time you were in bed,” says clinical psychologist Reut Gruber, lead author of the study. “Simply put, you go to bed, you lie down and spend time in bed, but if you’re not able to sleep through the time in bed, that’s not efficient sleep.” “Short or poor sleep is a significant risk factor for poor academic performance that is frequently ignored," says Gruber.
When it comes to math and language skills specifically, the hardware that supports those skills is in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is very sensitive to the effects of poor sleep or insufficient sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages three to 12 get 10-11 hours of sleep a night. If your child currently clocks in less than that, it might be time for a bedtime re-evaluation.
Here are several ways to be your child’s sleep advocate:
- Talk to your child about sleep. Have a conversation with your child about the importance of sleep. Educate your child about how much sleep he needs and how it will affect his performance.
- Encourage your child to establish a sleep routine. Encourage your child to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Insist on a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Have a regular quiet, relaxing bedtime routine such as reading to your child or reading together to help him slow down before going to sleep.
- Say no to late-night TV and computer use. Keep the computer and TV out of your child’s bedroom. It’s a good way to monitor his screen activities and make sure he doesn’t stay up past his bedtime. If he insists on watching TV right before bedtime, you can tell him to start getting ready for bed during the commercials and to record “must-see” late-night shows and watch them at another time.
- Check in with your child’s teacher. Ask your child’s teacher if your child is alert or sleepy in class. If he is frequently sleepy in class, that’s a sign that you need to help him get more sleep.
- The pros and cons of naps. As the best preschool choice in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, FL areas, T's Learning Centers makes sure our children get their needed naps! However, a short nap after school (no more than 30 minutes) may be refreshing, but don’t let your school-age child sleep for hours during the day as this will throw off the natural sleep schedule.
- Exercise plays a role in keeping a regular sleep schedule. Exercise is very important, particularly getting outside and getting morning light. But exercise raises the body temperature so it is not a good idea to exercise right before going to sleep. That means it’s important to regulate sports activities so they are not scheduled too late into the evening.
- Be a role model. Show your child that you make sleep a priority in your own life. Children are more likely to follow your advice if you follow the same rules for yourself.
Turning the lights out early on a school night is a good idea for everyone. Parents will see the difference in their child(ren) and feel better about their health and well-being. Whether your child is in preschool or kindergarten, with a good night's rest, they will feel better, achieve more and they just may thank you in the morning!