How healthy sleep can set students up for success

Healthy sleep is vital as students prepare for success in school. Yet, a new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)* shows that many students are not getting enough sleep, according to more than half of American parents surveyed. No matter where classes are held — in-person, online or in a hybrid format — the AASM is highlighting the importance of healthy sleep for students during the first-ever Student Sleep Health Week, Sept. 14-20, 2020.

“As many parents and caregivers try to create a routine for their kids, incorporating the right amount of healthy sleep is an important component,” said AASM President Dr. Kannan Ramar.

What’s keeping kids up on school nights?

From classwork to social media use, there are many things competing for the attention of school-aged children and teens, interfering with their nightly sleep. According to 90% of parents, homework and early school start times are the top barriers impacting the healthy sleep students need each night, followed by time with friends (87%), social media/electronics use (86%), hobbies (86%), sports (85%), chores or jobs (83%), and band/music/clubs (78%).

COVID-19 impact on sleep consistency

Another disrupter to sleep? The COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest challenges students have been facing during the pandemic has been maintaining a consistent and healthy sleep/wake schedule. According to the AASM, four out of 10 parents acknowledge that remote learning affects their children’s bedtime and/or waketime consistency.

“Even though students may not need to catch the bus or carpool this school year, they should continue with morning and bedtime rituals, including getting up and going to bed at regular times so they get enough sleep,” added Dr. Ramar.

Parents are aware of impact of sleep

About 94% of parents acknowledge that sleep impacts their children’s mood, and 93% understand its correlation to performance in school. Impacts on physical health (92%), mental health (90%), and performance in sports or other activities (90%) are also widely reported by parents.

Getting the recommended hours of healthy sleep on a regular basis is associated with better outcomes, including improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Sufficient sleep also helps students:

  • Excel in the classroom by maximizing attention, memory and learning abilities
  • Perform better in sports by being faster, stronger and more accurate
  • Feel their best and have a more optimistic attitude toward life
  • Look their best and maintain a healthy weight
  • Have fun and enjoy life by making better decisions and staying safe

The benefits of healthy sleep require not only adequate sleep duration, but also appropriate timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality and the absence of sleep disorders. The AASM recommends children 6-12 years of age sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health, while teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per night. (BPT)

For more information, please visit sleepeducation.org/student-sleep-health-week.

*AASM July 2020 Consumer Survey – https://aasm.org/about/newsroom/.