The Importance of Sleep
The start of school is an exciting time for students, teachers, and parents. We buy school supplies, and maybe new shoes! It is also a big transition from lazy summer hours and late nights to a routine that will maximize student learning. This first blog of the year is about the connection between a good night’s sleep and learning. Our grandparents and probably their grandparents would say that this is a given. Children need a good night’s sleep in order to have a good day. As in many areas of education, neuroscience is now supporting what we at PS1 already knew.
Healthy sleep appears to be a pre‐condition for learning and in turn, consolidates and enhances memories, helping to integrate them into existing neural networks. A growing body of knowledge shows that sleep enhances memory processing and, conversely, that sleep disruption can result in learning deficits. (Sigman, Pena, Golding, Ribeiro, 2014)
What is vastly different between our grandparents' lives and those of our children is that increasingly, sleep is vulnerable to disruption from features of our environment that would not have concerned them, such as 24-hour lights, sound stimuli, and the pervasiveness of screens (Hill, Hogan, Karmiloff-Smith,2007). Children's bedrooms may be inadequate sleep environments, stocked with capability for 24-hour stimulation and communication, in the form of music systems, mobile phones, and the internet.
In particular, screen time close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours
Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school (Dewald, Meijer, Oort, Kerkhof, Bogels, 2010).
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is important. The routine should ideally start at the same time every night. As soon as the sun goes down, start to “wind down” the household.
· Dim the lights
· Stop use of electronics/screens at least an hour before bed
· Limit caffeine
· Take a warm bath
· Do a quiet family activity such as reading a short book
· If your child wakes up during the night, walk them back to their room with as little commotion as possible
· Set a wake-up time for when the child is allowed to leave his or her room. The child can play quietly until that time if desired.