Adequate sleep has been repeatedly shown to improve school performance in children. Yet studies have shown that more and more children are habitually not getting enough sleep.
Need more evidence to get your child to bed earlier? Consider the findings of just three recent studies.
Lack of sleep contributes to behavior problems in school. A study published in the November issue of Pediatrics showed that decreasing a child’s sleep by 54 minutes a night led to more impulsive and restless behaviors. The researchers also found that a group of children who were given just 27 additional minutes of sleep had fewer behavioral problems compared to the baseline group. The authors further state that nearly 2/3 of children ages 6 to 10 years commonly don’t get enough sleep, and that nearly half of boys ages 10 and 11 years are not getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep might increase your teen’s risk of injury in sports. A study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference last October demonstrated that teens who regularly got eight hours or more of sleep per night were 68 percent less likely to be injured while playing their sports compared to their peers who were getting less sleep. The teens in both groups were otherwise similar in their level of play, amount of time spent in a sport, and so forth.
Lack of sleep may increase the long-term risk for obesity and diabetes. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that lack of sleep can slow a person’s metabolism and make it harder to burn calories, two preconditions for diabetes and becoming overweight.
More research needs to be done in all of these areas, but such studies all seem to lend support to the growing evidence that adequate sleep is critical. Do your children a favor and impress upon them at an early age that sleep is important—stick to a regular bedtime and a familiar bedtime routine—and do this for yourself as well.
Life is busy, yes, but we can all make sleep a priority and, in so doing, give ourselves a better chance at a happy and healthy life.