HOW MUCH SLEEP IS NEEDED TO OPTIMISE LEARNING FOR STUDENTS?
‘Up to 40% of Australian children and adolescents experience some form of sleep problem during their young years’. (Blunden 2005)
The amount and quality of people’s sleep is receiving increased attention as more young people arrive at school in sleep-deprived states.
Stickgold and Walker found in 2007, sleep time may affect the previous days learning. Having 2 hours less sleep a night may impair a student’s recall the following day. The more complex and complicated the material is, the more important sleep is to learning it. Also, if individuals do not get sufficient sleep, a sleep debt develops which over time can degrade mental function.
Centre for Sleep research adjunct fellow Dr Sarah Blunden claims that her research shows that children with borderline or clinically problematic behaviour were five times more likely to have significant sleep disturbance. Blunden also states that if students had an awareness of sleeping difficulties and paid attention to them, their learning, life and health could be improved. These findings support my view that students of all ages should be educated about the importance of sleep.
HOW MUCH SLEEP IS NEEDED EVERY 24 HOURS?
• Babies: From 14 – 18 hours
• Toddlers: From 12 – 14 hours
• Primary School aged children: From 10 – 12 hours
• High School students: From 9 – 11 hours
• Adults: From 7 – 9 hours
Factors that contribute to the development of sleep problems:
• Poor sleep habits, this includes irregular bed and wake up times
• Too much television before bed, too much time on the computer before bed
• Parents being inconsistent on bedtime rules or routines in the middle of the night
• Through association the child is not able to get to sleep on their own, which can result in a parent staying with the child until they fall asleep, or the child sleeping in their parent’s bed.
TO ASSIST INFANTS PARENTS CAN:
• Regulate sleeping times-day and night
• Put a baby/toddler to bed when they are awake, not asleep
• Teach them how to ‘self-soothe’ by giving them the opportunity to do it and make them as comfortable as they can be alone-comfort toys, dummies, nightlights
TO ASSIST PRE-SCHOOLERS and JUNIOR SCHOOL STUDENTS PARENTS CAN:
• Teach young children how to get themselves asleep alone
• Regulate bed and wake times
• Be aware of signs of fatigue during the day-hyperactivity, naughtiness, irritability
• Have a soothing and relaxing bed routine
TO ASSIST ADOLESCENTS PARENTS CAN:
• Don’t let the holiday/weekend bedtime get too late. This will push the body clock forward and make it more difficult to get to sleep earlier when school/work starts again
• Be aware of the signs of fatigue during the day-withdrawal, anxiety, depression, aggression, poor learning and attention
• Be realistic with bedtimes
• Napping at about 4PM is better than sleeping in too much on the weekend to pay back sleep debt
• Promote good sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to the habits that can help us or prevent us from sleeping. If a child is having difficulty sleeping parents can assist by developing some of the behaviours listed below:
• No TV/computer games or vigorous exercise one hour before bed-no TV in bedroom
• Monitor mobile phone use
• No high sugar drinks, no caffeine, no spicy food for 4 hours before bed, no food for 3 hours before bed
• Develop regular and relaxing bedtime routines
• Ensure bedroom environment is comfortable-lighting, noise and temperature
• Develop strategies to assist with relaxation
• Use a sleep diary to ensure enough sleep is being had
• Educate children about the importance of sleep
We would love to hear what your thoughts are in relation to sleep and how to get enough sleep for optimal brain health.
Optimise Learning Australia