The amount of sleep the average person needs varies throughout their lives, but for anyone six years old or older, 9 hours is a good standard. Sleep is an important step towards staying healthy, although scientists still aren't sure why.
Sleep, or lack of it, will influence how you function throughout the day. A person who's deprived of sleep will likely perform worse in athletics and academics and may struggle more to complete tasks.
How does sleep affect a child's learning abilities, though? Which systems are affected and how?
We'll talk about that and more in the paragraphs below.
Improved Attention Span
One of the major abilities impacted by sleep is our attention span. Those who get a healthy amount of sleep have an easier time listening to other people and understanding what's going on around them.
It's not hard to understand why this happens. When we're tired, we naturally want to sleep. We also tend to be more irritable than usual.
In these circumstances, the last thing we want to do is focus on somebody lecturing us on a subject we don't find interesting.
It's interesting to note that the reverse is often true as well. Many neurodevelopmental disorders that are known for affecting attention span also cause insomnia.
4 out of every 5 preschoolers with autism will experience disrupted sleep.
While creativity isn't a huge factor in every subject, it can have its advantages in an academic setting. Not only does it have a role in art class, creative writing, and similar pursuits, but it also comes up in more mainstream subjects, like English, science, and history.
Our ability to follow our own path and create our own ideas can be a major help later in life. Businesses in every field are always in search of ways to get ahead, and the way to do that is to come up with a new idea.
This is known as critical thinking, and it impacts our ability to solve complex problems. If your child is struggling in math or chemistry, making sure they get good quality sleep may be the best place to start.
Outside of the business world, the public idolizes creative types. Most of us can rattle off a whole list of our favorite actors, musicians, and writers. By contrast, how many CEOs can you name?
Even if you don't make a career out of it, creative pursuits can make for great hobbies and help you calm down after a stressful day at work or school.
Emotional and Mental Health
We've mentioned that certain psychological conditions can worsen sleep and vice versa. The same is true for emotional health.
It's been found among college students that those who get more sleep tend to be happier than their peers. Sleep and mental health can be a vicious cycle, with a shortage of sleep causing greater severity of symptoms, which may lead to less sleep, and so on.
If children react similarly, then a kid's sleeping habits could play a significant role in how their lives play out. If the child doesn't sleep well, they are more prone to low self-esteem and even depression.
Self-esteem is linked to social interaction, so a more confident child will likely have more success socially.
All of this added up can save lives. With students being less depressed and better able to handle stress, the suicide rate drops.
A study done on high school and middle school students found that each hour of sleep missed resulted in a 58% rise in suicide attempts. This is staggering, considering that suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24.
Improved School Performance
With emotional health and attention span benefitting from better sleep, it should come as no surprise that children with healthy sleep cycles often perform better academically and achieve higher scores on standardized tests.
This connects to our earlier entry on emotional and mental health, because a student may have higher self-esteem if they do well in school.
The higher attention span that comes with improved sleep will also make it easier for your child to complete homework.
However, school isn't just intellectual. There are physical aspects of it, too, not to mention plenty of extra-curricular sports.
Athletes and future athletes need a healthy amount of sleep to rest their bodies before they play again. Being well-rested improves an athlete's reaction times.
Studies have shown that an athlete's response improves by a few milliseconds for every extra hour they sleep. However, the true impact is shown when they miss sleep. Inadequate sleep has been shown to decrease response times as much as intoxication.
Helping Your Children Sleep
Getting a child to sleep isn't easy, especially with a younger child. Kids will test boundaries as they grow, but they'll calm down once they learn the limits.
Until then, there are ways to make them more willing to sleep, and the biggest one is comfort. We've all heard stories of children carrying around their favorite blanket or clutching a stuffed animal when they sleep. Perhaps they have a set of pajamas that they're attached to.
You should allow them to take these things to bed with them, as it may calm them down and make sleeping easier. The exception is the pajamas, as they will need to be washed every once in a while.
Sleep, Learning Abilities, and Your Child
Sleep has an impact on many aspects of our lives, from learning abilities to athletics. This is why it's important to make sure your child gets enough sleep.
We've talked about some of the many benefits of sleep above, but you could fill whole books on the subject, so there's more out there if you're interested.
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