Sleep and Learning

Most of us have experienced the effects of a night of bad sleep. The results being slow reflexes, less patience, and a decreased ability to process information quickly. It should then come as no surprise that not having enough sleep can impact children’s learning and school performance.

Imaging and behavioral studies show the critical role sleep plays in learning and memory. Researchers believe that sleep affects learning and memory in two ways:

  • Lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently.
  • Sleep is necessary to consolidate a memory (make it stick) so that it can be recalled in the future.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

Sleep is a largely controversial topic since getting children to bed is a struggle for many parents and every child and family is different, so there’s no one right answer.

Generally infants need 12 to 17 hours of sleep each day, toddlers and young preschoolers sleep 11 to 14 hours, while preschoolers typically need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep daily.

Just as children differ in their preferences and temperaments, some children fall asleep very easily while others find going sleep very difficult and put up more of a struggle.

Let’s look a few tips that may help your child fall asleep and stay asleep:

Create the right ambience . Kids engines tend to run hard all day long, but a time to slow down in the afternoon or evening is really helpful to promote a peaceful night of sleep. Take a walk after dinner, read books together, or play quietly. This might not be the best time to have an all-out wrestling match. However, a warm bath can be very soothing, helping your child to relax and go to sleep more easily.

Turn off technology. Screens emit blue light, which can actually rev up the brain and lead to trouble falling asleep. Additionally, television programs or games with bright colors, flashing lights, or songs stimulate children. Practice healthy use of technology with children, ensuring that you turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime or naptime. If you can’t avoid computers, install software, that changes the display light from blue-white to yellow in the evening that helps children go to sleep more easily.

Offer a snack. A high-protein snack, that is. Children often wake in the night because they’re hungry. Offering a snack rich in protein or complex carbs can give them the fuel they need to sleep through the night. Think cheese and whole-grain crackers, peanut butter on whole-wheat bread, yogurt, hummus and pitas, or a glass of milk.

Sleep is very important for our children’s growing and developing brains. To help them focus in class, absorb more and thrive we must ensure that we are giving our them the right environment which is conducive to learning. Hopefully if we encourage them to sleep better and they will be at their optimum in progressing in their learning.