How does sleep affect children?

In a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, it was found that one in four children in the UK don’t get enough sleep.

Children who don’t get enough sleep can have problems with attention, memory and problem solving making focusing at school even more challenging.

So how much sleep should children be getting? It is recommended primary school aged children should get between 10 -11 hours of sleep a night, and secondary school children should get between 9-10 hours of sleep per night.

Factors of good sleep for children:

  • Exercise

Exercise is important for everyone, especially children. Exercising during the day helps children to feel sleepier at bedtime, in turn helping them fall asleep quicker and then stay asleep during the night making those PE lessons and after schools sports clubs even more important.

  • Diet

A healthy, well-balanced diet helps to promote good sleep. It is recommended that children do not have a heavy meal close to bedtime however if they do have a snack, foods such as bread and cereal are best for a good night sleep. Do you feel your school provides healthy nutritious lunch options?

  • Environment

A child’s bedroom should be calm, quiet, dark and cool to ensure the best conditions for sleep. Some children may also feel safer with a night light.

So, what happens when children don’t get enough sleep? The effects that a lack of sleep have on children at school can be massive. On average, it is believed children need two to four more hours sleep a night than adults to have the same level of concentration. Therefore, if a child has poor concentration, they are more likely to struggle in school and recall less from previous lessons they have been taught. This could then link to poor grades and exam results.

Furthermore, bad behaviour may also be linked to poor sleep quality. Children are more likely to misbehave or become aggressive as a result of bad sleep as well as this, impulsivity and hyperactivity are two further effects of not getting enough sleep. Subsequently, if children are less likely to achieve and succeed in school due to poor sleep quality, then they are even less likely if they also have poor behave as a consequence of poor sleep.

Do you think children are getting enough sleep? Let us know!