Benefits of Sleep
Sleep is a critical and often under-appreciated aspect of well-being affecting academics, behavior, and emotional health. Proper sleep is associated with better health, attention, learning, memory, and quality of life, making it a critical performance enhancer. Conversely, a lack of sleep is associated with deficits in these capacities as well adverse physical health. Both the hours and quality of sleep are important in maintaining vitality. To help determine your child's quality of sleep, ask yourself the following:
- Is it hard to wake my child in the morning?
- Does my child have difficulty focusing during the day?
- Has my child dozed off during the day?
Recommended Hours of Sleep
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends the following sleep durations:
- Children 3 to 5 years of age: 10-13 hours
- Children 6 to 12 years of age: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age: 8-10 hours
- Adults: 7-8 hours
Source Credit: The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Not getting enough sleep, or sleep deprivation, can adversely affect children's mental and physical health. Mentally, a lack of sleep can affect a child's mood, leading to possible:
- Problems with relationships
Physically, not getting enough sleep can also mean that children may lack the hormones needed to help them grow and build muscle mass, fight infections, and repair cells. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can also increase risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Developmental Sleep Considerations
- Gradeschool children need around 9-12 hours of sleep per night.
- Behavior and emotional difficulties may manifest with lack of appropriate sleep.
- It is important for children develop consistent sleeping patterns (see right for tips).
- During the teenage years, the circadian rhythm, or biological clock, is shifted such that teens do not become tired until later in the evening and wish to sleep later in the morning.
- Not allowing for proper sleep can lead to behavioral and academic problems, car crashes, and the over-use of caffeine and other stimulants.
- Teenage students have competing demands between sleep, school, and extracurricular activities leading 7 out of 10 high school students to not get enough sleep.
- One tool to make sure sleep is honored amid the array of various activities is to chart the time devoted to the week’s events, delegating around 9 hours for sleeping each day. Download and fill in the event chart below to plan for proper sleep!
Source Credit: CDC.gov
Time Management Chart for High School
Download and fill-in the chart to see a breakdown of your or your high school student's week. Populate each box and the grand totals will calculate at the bottom of the form.
Scientific Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep
Tips for Optimal Sleep
Preparation for a good night's sleep can begin by developing healthy habits throughout the day. Children may experience better sleep after a day when they:
- Get outside to be exposed to bright light in the morning
- Avoid consuming caffeine
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night
- Exercise regularly, though not too late in the evening
- Limit evening activities and provide time to relax before bed
Children may experience better sleep from evenings in which they:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
- Create a wind-down routine including relaxing activities like reading
- Turn off electronics at least a half-hour before bed to reduce blue light which blocks the release of sleep-inducing melatonin
- Leave phones out of the bedroom
- Turn down the lights
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Keep the temperature in the bedroom cool
- Limit light and make the bedroom as quiet as possible
Books on Sleep
Most books are available at the Livermore Public Library
by Sigal Adler Year Published: 2017
Teaching kids the importance of sleep, through a funny, rhyme-filled story about a child who avoids sleep.
by Jim Pipe Year Published: 2016
Like it or not, we all have to sleep. Yet sleep is also very mysterious. No one really knows why we do it. And how do we explain all those strange dreams? What scientists do understand, however, is that sleeping is essential for health and happiness. Learn about the strange sleep cycles throughout the animal kingdom, and the theories behind why people get tired or have terrifying nightmares.
by Michael A. Thompkins, PhD AA Year Published: 2018
Sleep is food for the brain—especially for teens. Based on the most current sleep science and evidence-based cognitive and behavioral interventions to improve sleep, The Insomnia Workbook for Teens helps teens change their sleep habits so that they can feel more alert and ready to face life’s challenges.
by Helene Emsellem M.D. Year Published: 2006
Learning good sleep habits is very important for all of childhood, but once puberty hits, both the body and brain change. Emsellem clearly explains that teens don’t stay up late just to defy parents or exert their independence; instead, due to the delayed daily release of melatonin it is actually difficult for them to fall asleep before midnight.
Consult your pediatrician for your child’s specific sleep needs.