📚Why Sleep Is So Important for Your Child’s Education
You know your child needs to get their vitamins and minerals to thrive. You also realize the importance of physical exercise after a challenging naptime battle or two. However, are you overlooking the importance of sleep to your child’s education?
Children need more sleep than adults and many don’t get as much as they require. Today’s hectic schedules can mean missing out on valuable Zzz’s. However, if you want your children to get the best education possible, you need to tuck them in. Here’s why.
1. It Helps Maintain Focus
When you don’t get adequate sleep, it delays several cognitive functions that make it challenging to maintain focus. Children already have shorter attention spans than adults, and the addition of sleep deprivation can cause them to lose most of the school day’s value. Vigilance falls by the wayside, and so does auditory and visuospatial attention, serial addition and subtraction abilities and reaction time.
If you want your child to pay attention while their teacher explains multiplication tables, you need to get them to bed at a decent hour. To minimize their chances of restlessness once you tuck them in, practice a no-devices policy for cellphones and tablets in bedrooms.
2. It Reinforces Time Management
Time management involves more than running from one structured task to another with no downtime. Everyone, including children, needs free time to play and relax, and maintaining a bedtime routine helps in this endeavor. You can designate the 30 minutes preceding bedtime as quiet activity time for your kids to do nearly any soothing activity they wish, like coloring or reading a bedtime story.
You do want to avoid letting them play on devices before bedtime, however. Doing so can reinforce negative habits like staying up to surf social media. The blue light from gadget screens suppresses melatonin production for twice as long as other wavelengths and alters circadian rhythms. Both can keep your kiddos tossing and turning long after lights out.
3. It Improves Their Memory
"Now I know my ABC’s" — because I repeated them multiple times! Your kids learn many things through memorization, but if their brain cells aren’t firing at their peak, they will struggle to remember their lessons.
Research shows that sleep impacts memory by doing more than making focus a challenge. Learning occurs in three stages: acquisition, consolidation and recall. Sleep plays a vital role in the consolidation of memory — integrating new information with prior knowledge to make it readily accessible. Without this ability, your child may know that they learned something, but it remains on the tip of their tongue, leaving them frustrated.
4. It Increases Decision-Making Skills
As an adult, you know how frazzled you feel when making too many high-stakes decisions in a short time. After a trying day, your spouse might say, “What’s for dinner?” but you burst into tears because your brain can’t handle one more choice. Children can get decision-fatigue too, which can impact their educational process.
When their teacher takes your child to the library to select a book, they might hem and haw. Not because they want to dally, but because they genuinely can’t decide what they want. However, if this behavior causes them to get in trouble, it can spur a negative attitude toward school in general.
5. It Releases Growth Hormone
Children’s bodies release human growth hormone all the time, but most of it occurs during sleep. Researchers discovered that your body releases 50% of this substance during the first slow-wave stage of sleep. As much as 70% of growth hormone production occurs during slumber. Your children need adequate levels of growth hormone not only to grow taller but also for brain development.
6. It Promotes Social Intelligence
Did you ever notice that you feel touchy and irritable when you sleep poorly? The same happens to your children, but they lack the adult emotional intelligence to explain why they misbehave or act mean to others. Inadequate sleep can make it challenging for children to form friendships. Without a positive social circle, your child might resist going to school because they feel isolated.
7. It Improves Mental Health
Chronic sleep deprivation and depression are so interlinked that researchers often don’t know which condition arose first. Like adults, children can suffer from depression and anxiety. Those approaching puberty already face an increased risk of mental health disorders, as their hormones can spur erratic moods and behaviors. The addition of sleep deprivation can magnify the issue.
8. It Helps Stave Off Obesity
By the time they reach age 12, fully one-fifth of all children develop obesity. Inadequate sleep fuels weight gain by increasing the stress hormone cortisol.
In short bursts, this chemical suppresses appetite. When overproduction becomes chronic, such as in sleep deprivation, it increases the urge to eat. Your child’s body feels like it’s under constant attack and sends signals to refuel. Unfortunately, becoming obese makes your child a more likely target for bullies, too, making them want to avoid school.
9. It Strengthens Their Immune System
If you plan to continue homeschooling your children after COVID-19, you probably don’t lose much sleep over them missing lessons due to illness. However, sending a sick child to school can make an entire class fall ill. Unfortunately, without seat time in a traditional environment, your child won’t learn as much as their peers with less frequent absences.
10. It Protects Them From Accidents
Finally, studies of drowsy drivers show that sleep deprivation can impair their reaction time, much like alcohol. Even if your little one is far from driving, they encounter hazards on the playground. A fall from the monkey bars can mean a broken leg — and missed class time.