Sleep and academic success: How a good night’s sleep can help your child perform better in school

Sleep is vital to our well-being at any age, but particularly crucial for school-age children. Sleep deprivation affects every aspect of a child’s life, from friends and family relationships to school performance and daily behavior. Roughly one third of children ages four months to 17 years get less sleep than they need.

Without adequate sleep, children and teens may have problems with:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Emotional issues
  • Impulsive behavior

Inadequate sleep can also be harmful to your child’s health leading to an increased risk for health problems, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and depression. On the flip side, studies have shown that kids who get adequate sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health.

Is your child getting enough zzzs?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and kids need more. The amount of sleep required by young children varies by age, but a lack of sound slumber affects kids at every stage.

  • Toddlers (ages 1 to 2): 11 to 14 hours
  • Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5): 10 to 13 hours
  • School-age (ages 6 to 13): 9 to 11 hours
  • Teens (ages 14 to 17): 8 to 10 hours

What can parents do to improve sleep?

Sleep—either falling or staying asleep—can be a struggle for some kids. Paving the way for a good night’s rest starts with a consistent bedtime routine.

Try these tips:

  • Dim the lights
  • Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed and keep technology out of the bedroom
  • Limit caffeine
  • Have a bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story
  • Do a quiet family activity such as reading a short book
  • If your child wakes up during the night, walk them back to their room with as little commotion as possible
  • Parents can help their children by modeling good sleep habits, such as a regular sleep-wake routine, including weekends

If your child is experiencing daytime sleepiness or behavior difficulties in school that you think might be linked to lack of sleep, you should visit your pediatrician.

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This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.

Sleep and academic success: How a good night’s sleep can help your child perform better in school