Better Sleep, Better Grades
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages five to twelve get ten to eleven hours of sleep a night. Teenagers need about nine hours, but studies suggest only 15% of them get the needed amount. “Sleep is a Powerful Medicine,” says Dr. Rod Willey, diplomate of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dr. Willey continues, “without it, every aspect of life suffers. With it, the body is restored each night and supplies the needed energy and health to be successful.”
To thrive academically, children, teens and college students need to have healthy energy, ability to focus, concentrate, retain information, and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires students to control impulses and manage emotions. All these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.
As kids get older, sleepiness leads to slipping grades. For example, in a study of roughly 1,000 children and preadolescents, researchers measured kids’ sleep and school performance and found that poor sleepers, (who had difficulty falling asleep and woke up at least once a night,) were significantly more likely to have school achievement difficulties. In fact, one of the best predictors of school failure in the study was children’s fatigue (being difficult to arouse in the morning and falling asleep during the day). In another study of 3,000 high school students in New England, those who reported higher grades had significantly more sleep time and earlier bedtimes on school nights than those with lower grades. Students reporting B’s or better got 17-33 minutes more sleep on school nights and went to bed 10-50 minutes earlier than students with C’s and below. Students with lower grades also went to bed on average 2.3 hours later on the weekends than on school nights, compared to A/B students, who went to bed 1.8 hours later on the weekends. The same relationship has held true for college students as well.
Another study done by clinical psychologist Reut Gruber reports a “significant” performance variable in math and languages that is related to a good night’s sleep. Especially math. “We found that 14% of the variability we found in math …was explained by sleep deficiency,” said Dr. Gruber. “It was 7% and 8% for English and French.”
From preschool through college, signs of sleepiness may present as behavioral and learning difficulties. Students who seem excessively sleepy during the day are more likely to experience problems with learning, attention, hyperactivity, and conduct, than students who aren’t sleepy. Sleepiness causes problems with concentration and mood and can even make it hard for students to stay awake in class or cause them to act out with hyperactivity, symptoms similar to ADHD. Kids can present with dark circles under their eyes, crowded teeth and delayed growth.
The equation is simple and straightforward. The better you sleep, the better your grades will be. There is a direct proportional link between the amount of sleep and level of grades for young children. In particular, the areas of math and science can be especially difficult to focus on.
Suggestions for Parents
Parents must be extremely aware of their student’s sleep patterns to ensure they are receiving ample sleep. Watch for symptoms of Sleep Related Breathing Disorders, such as snoring, gasping during sleep, waking multiple times during sleep, bedwetting, mouth breathing and restlessness while sleeping. Poor sleep will affect more than moods and may spill over to impact schoolwork and the ability to focus on homework.
Since there are countless distractions at any given time, parents must work harder than ever to put their children to bed at the proper time. Compromised sleep often results in compromised grades. When a child does not get enough sleep, their brain does not have the time required to recharge. Poor performance in school and a lack of interest in other activities can be the result. Insufficient sleep is also related to accidents and injuries during sports activities for tired kids.
Koala KIDZzz®, a division of Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders, provides consultations for children beginning at age 4. Give us a call at (855) 977-0400 and discover options your child can thrive with. We walk with you on the path to help your child reach their potential through better sleep. While attending to sleep wellness during childhood can lead to long term benefits, the outlook for better grades is greatly improved.