Importance of Sleep

For Children In Education

Getting a good night's sleep is important for everyone if we are to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that most adults require between 7-8 hours of sleep per night to keep their body and mind healthy. But what about kids? As more research on the sleep patterns of children is carried out it becomes increasingly obvious that sleep plays an important role in the development of children of all ages. But particularly in children in  education, from pre-school to university.

Why a good night’s sleep is important for kids

Sleep is an essential part of everyone's day but especially so for children in education. According to John Hopkins Medicine, research shows that children who get the recommended number of hours of sleep each night have improved behaviour characteristics, better short-term and long-term memory performance and increased attention spans. While those children who don’t get enough sleep are prone to high blood pressure, obesity and increased risk of depression. One other statistic which may be of interest is that children respond differently to adults when they don’t get enough sleep. While sleep deprivation typically makes adults sluggish and ill-tempered, it tends to make children distracted and even aggressive, sometimes explosively so. 

So it is important to ensure your child is getting enough sleep if they are to reach their potential at school, but how much sleep do they need?

What is the recommended amount of sleep children should get?

The amount of sleep children require varies on age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep times for children:

13 – 18
Years Old

8 – 10
Hours of Sleep

Children between 13 to 18 years should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep each night

5 – 12
Years Old

9 – 12
Hours of Sleep

Children between 5 to 12 years should get 9-12 hours of sleep each night

3 – 5
Years Old

10 – 13
Hours of Sleep

Preschool children 3 to 5 years need between 10-13 hours per day (including naps)

1 – 2
Years Old

11 – 14
Hours of Sleep

Toddlers 1 to 2 years need between 11-14 hours per day (including naps)

4 – 12
Months Old

12 – 16
Hours of Sleep

Babies 4 to 12 months need between 12-16 hours per day (including naps)

How to get your child to sleep more?

Knowing how much sleep your child should be getting is one thing, but achieving it is quite another. While some children fall asleep easily while others are more challenging. In most cases, though this can be fixed by making simple changes to their environment and routine. 

Here are five tips to help ensure your child gets a good night's sleep:

1. Create a routine

Having a routine is one of the most important aspects of getting a good nights sleep. You should aim for children to be in bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Having a regular pre-bedtime routine also helps prepare the body for sleep.

2. Turn-off technology

Nothing disturbs sleep more than the blue light emitted from TVs, smartphones or tablets. Try and develop healthy technology use by limiting the use of smartphones for up to an hour before bedtime. You should also avoid the use of computers and limit the amount of time spent watching TV just before bedtime.

3. Prepare a light snack

Children often wake up during the night because they are hungry. Preparing a light snack before bedtime can help alleviate symptoms of hunger. Stay away from foods high in caffeine however, this will have the opposite effect. Stick to high-protein foods such as whole grains, yoghurt and milk.

4. Make sure their bed is comfortable

A nice comfortable bed is one of the best ways of ensuring a good night's sleep. The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing mattresses every seven years but you should also ensure they have a sturdy frame. Metal beds are great for kids because they are sturdy and come in many styles and colours. Iron beds, for example, are great for creating a sophisticated boutique look which your child will love to spend time in.

5. Maintain a comfortable temperature

Extreme temperatures can disrupt sleep patterns, Sleep.org recommends that room temperature is kept between 15-19ºc for a good night's sleep. You can help manage temperatures by keeping windows open in summer and using a hot water bottle and bed socks in winter.