Thinking of waking the kids up a little earlier? Think again. New research has found that a little extra sleep each night can work wonders on a child’s conduct and concentration in school.
The study, completed by McGill University and Douglas Research Centre in Montreal, involved 33 children between the ages of 7 and 11. Over the course of a week, half of the children slept for 30 minutes less than usual, and the other half slept 30 minutes longer than usual. Not knowing which group the children were in, their school teachers reported on children’s behaviour during the week.
The results were clear – those children in the ‘extra sleep’ group had noticeable improvement in behaviour, while in the ‘less sleep’ group, the teachers were able to discern worse behviour than usual and more disruptiveness.
While it was a small scale study, it does illustrate the need for better sleep education among parents, teachers, and students themselves. In fact, an Australian study recently found that including sleep health in the school curriculum resulted in children sleeping longer during the night. The researchers of this Montreal study explain that “Given the positive impact of moderate sleep extension and the negative impact of moderate sleep restriction, it is important that parents, educators and student are provided with sleep education featuring data on the critical impact of sleep on daytime function. Sleep must be prioritized, and sleep problems must be eliminated.”
In addition to behviour, good sleep patterns tend to improve concentration and overall academic performance. So go ahead and let them sleep a little longer — A half hour can make a huge difference!