“Sleep is the best form of meditation” – Dalai Lama
Cognitive Ability (Performance in School)
Strong scientific research shows that a good night’s sleep can significantly increase how our brain functions. A lack of sleep has proven to impair our executive function, which are skills needed to manage daily life. This can lead to a lack of focus and difficulty in dealing with emotions.This function is often referred to as the “Management system of the brain”. It is therefore easy to see how a child who is having difficulty sleeping, may not be performing to the best of their ability in the classroom. At our breakfast, after school, and holiday clubs we often discuss the importance of sleep with the children and talk them through the benefits a good night’s sleep can have on them. We understand children may not always be too concerned by their performance in the classroom, so we often relate it to activities that are of more importance to them. For example, those who are particularly keen on sport we would discuss how a lack of sleep could be harming their performance on the football pitch or tennis court.
Mood (Behavioural Problems)
There is a lot of evidence to back up the theory that inadequate sleep – whether too short or poor quality – causes changes in mood (even more so in children than adults).
Probable side effects in children:
– See things with a negative view as opposed to a positive one
– Issues regulating ups and downs – leading to disproportionate reactions over minor events
– Low attention span
– Ability to problem solve decreases
– Become non-compliant
– Increased levels of anxiety
Physical Health (Weight)
Extensive scientific research now shows that children who consistently get a lack of sleep in their early years are more likely to become overweight or obese as they grow older. A study carried out in New Zealand back in 2011 found that, on average, children who slept for an hour less in their earlier years had a later BMI that was about 0.4 points higher.
It is important to stress that just changing your child’s sleeping habits alone will not be enough to combat health issues they may have, however, the positive side effects of sleeping well could lead to further improvements in their health & wellbeing.
Here are our Top 5 Sleep Tips for Children
1) Educate children on the benefits of sleep.
2) Make your child’s room a Device-Free Zone (check out a previous article on the effect of devices).
3) Ensure your child’s room is dark, quiet, and cool.
4) Have a relaxing evening routine.
5) Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.