Sleep—a Pillar of Good Health and Academic Success

We all know sleep is important, and at all ages, but its value is becoming more and more apparent as researchers discover what happens when you skimp on snoozing.

In children, lack of sleep has been linked to behavior problems and the inability to concentrate and perform well in school. For example, a study of high school students in New England revealed those with higher grades had significantly more sleep time and earlier bedtimes than those with lower grades, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

Lack of sleep also has been linked to more belly fat among children and a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania involving mice, found chronic sleep loss can lead to loss of brain cells.

“Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Safwan Badr. “You must sleep well to be well.” The Academy is a partner in the national “Sleep Well, Be Well” campaign.

Most parents understand the importance of quality of sleep, but when asked about the amount of sleep their children got on school nights in a survey by the NSF, their estimates were well below NSF recommendations.

The NSF recommends children ages 6 to 10 get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night and that teens get about 9 hours.

Here are some suggestions for helping your children get a good night’s sleep this school year:

  • Make sleep a family priority
  • Set appropriate and consistent bedtimes for yourself and your children, and stick to them
  • Talk to your child about the importance of sleep for health, well-being and academic success
  • Educate yourself—and your child—on how light from electronic device screens can interfere with sleep
  • Be a good role model for your child—set a good example
  • Try to encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime instead of watching TV or surfing the web.

The National Sleep Foundation offers a variety of resources on sleep health as well as sleep problems and disorders.

For more information about the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project and the “Sleep Well, Be Well” campaign, click here.

Getting adequate sleep is just one of several habits that can help insure a successful school year and it plays an important role in making the Learning Connection which is based on research showing Healthy Kids=Better Learners.

To learn more about the academic value of sleep and the importance of other factors like healthy eating and exercise that influence a child’s capacity to learn and be successful in school, go to www.healthykidstoday.org/lc, a website created and supported by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF).

WPHF, long a supporter of free, school-based health and wellness programs in Winter Park High School and its elementary and middle feeder schools, is promoting the importance of the Learning Connection in print materials to be sent home to families and in social media in hopes of raising the awareness of the importance of healthy habits to academic success.

In addition, WPHF is encouraging families to stay connected by signing up for the WPHF weekly, health-themed, e-newsletter. And the school with the largest percentage of parents signing up receives $1,000 for healthy school activities.