Study: More sleep, better behavior at school

A new Canadian study has found a correlation between the number of hours of sleep kids get and their behavior at school. More sleep improved kids’ behaviors and made them less restless. Children with less sleep were more likely to cry, lose their tempers or become frustrated. The study is reported in Pediatrics.

The National Institutes for Health recommend 10 hours of sleep for kids. (The article doesn’t say for what age range.)

From Reuters:

“The children were split into two groups for the second week. One group’s parents were told to add an hour to their kids’ usual time asleep, while the other group was told to cut their sleep time by an hour.”

“Half of the children did lose an hour of sleep each night, but the other group was only able to add about 30 minutes. Still, that seemed long enough for teachers to notice an improvement in the kids’ behavior….”

“The children who got the extra 30 minutes of sleep during the second week scored, on average, about 47, meaning their behavior had improved. But the children who lost an hour of sleep each night were scored about 54.”

I don’t think there’s any doubt that a well-rested child is going to better behaved, able to concentrate and ready to work. The question is how do you help them get more sleep? They can’t sleep in so that means you have to get them to bed earlier, but that is hard with homework, dinner and sporting events.

On a related note, part of the reason my 11-year-old had her tonsils out this summer was because the doctors believed the large size of the tonsils was blocking her oxygen intake and hurting her sleep. The Ear Nose Throat doctor asked if her sheets were always crazy in the morning and he said that indicated that she was a restless sleeper. Since having her tonsils out, she sleeps so much more soundly. She is far less grumpy in the morning and when I go to wake her up the bed sheets are not in a big twist on the bed.

The ENT went on to say that many ENT’s believe having the tonsils out helps and even rids some kids of ADHD. I don’t believe better sleep will get rid of accurately diagnosed case of ADHD (it’s neuro-chemical) but I do think better sleep will help any child concentrate better and be more cooperative

So, is your child getting 10 hours of sleep a night? Could you get them to bed earlier? Do you notice a correlation between well-rested and better behavior?

67 comments Add your comment

Jeremey

October 19th, 2012
5:42 am

We should also keep in mind that sleep patterns change as children grow into adolescence. More important than simple volume is the circadian rhythm. We should pay as much attention to the children’s natural sleep cycles as much as modern life can allow. We have some flexibility as to when we start school for the different age groups, why not at least attempt to get close to a start time that is more natural for each age group?

FCM on my cell

October 19th, 2012
5:48 am

Dont most people do better when they are well rested? Studies show that driving tired iis as bad as driving drunk too. I cannot believe in 2012 this needs a study. This is just common sense, and is not new information. What is next linking healthy diet and a good breakfast to doing well in academics?

catlady

October 19th, 2012
7:04 am

Since I began working with kids who are behind, I frequently ask them what time they go to bed. You won’t believe how many say they fall asleep in front of the TV at 11 or later! Not sure what is cause and what is effect: Kids who are behind frequently have parents who do not really parent. It IS more difficult to ” put your child to bed” but well worth-while in terms of behavior AND achievement. High-achieving kids frequently have parents who structure their lives to a degree. Other kids get to make up the “rules” from day to day and it shows at school! These are the kids who don’t understand that if the rule is to not do X on Monday, it is the same on Tuesday and every other day. I postulate at their homes the rules, if any, change depending on the whims/needs of the adults.

(Now, don’t start with the Auntie Em stories! OF COURSE, there are top kids who get by on 4 hours sleep, in high school especially. I am saying my observation of hundreds of kids follows the pattern above.)

Any other teachers with many years of observation of many children care to chime in? MJG?

catlady

October 19th, 2012
7:05 am

And how, Theresa? You put them to bed. No lights, no TV, no flashlights, no video games. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to lay there in the dark.

gtmom

October 19th, 2012
7:33 am

I try to put my kids to bed early every night (by 8) but we are finding that the increased amount of homework is keeping my 7 year old up til 9. He gets distracted too well so I feel like asking his teacher which is more important – homework or sleep. We do not get home until after 6 and that does not give much time to eat, showers, and homework.

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
7:39 am

Well DUH!!!! Do you really need a study to know that????

motherjanegoose

October 19th, 2012
7:40 am

@catlady…I was saying saying yes to your comments before I got to the end. Routines (IMHO) are important. Clear expectations too! How do you get children to go to bed? You tell them, “Your bedtime is ____________.” PERIOD. Some parents need to step up and be the parent. If cannot get your kids to go to bed, good luck when they are teens and in college. Your ideas will be fluff. YES they will argue but you stand your ground and provide consequences, if needed. Been there done that thanks!

This is kind of like the employer who provides conseqeunces for the employee who comes to work 30 minutes late each day.

This was me:
“High-achieving kids frequently have parents who structure their lives to a degree.”

FCM…common sense…I think those words are evaporating!

I used to fuss at our church that had night activities during the week that ended at 9:00. By the time the elementary kids get home and get settled it could be 9:30 or 10:00. Many have to get up at 6:30. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH SLEEP. My kid’s health and well being was more important than those activities.

I stayed with mine, on sleep, until they were 16 and with a job. Then, I gently reminded them but did not dominate. They did need to be home at a decent hour but their bed time was more flexible. To me, they needed to learn to self adjust before college.

Voice of Reason

October 19th, 2012
7:50 am

Oh by the way, water is wet.

Grass is green.

Lava is hot…..

Chaos

October 19th, 2012
8:10 am

Using the belt also helps with behavior problems.

catlady

October 19th, 2012
8:16 am

John Rosemond, with whom I occasionally agree (!) uses the “go to bed an hour earlier” cure for misbehavior. Whatever the problem, the child is told, “I talked to your doctor and s/he says you need more rest to help you with your (fill in the blank, whining, etc). So, you will go to bed an hour earlier.”

You cannot make them sleep but you CAN put them to bed! (Just like you can’t make them eat, but you can limit their choices to healthy food to choose from.)

catlady

October 19th, 2012
8:17 am

One more thing–what I tend to hear from my worst behaving, worst achieving boys–”I stayed up till midnight playing video games with my mama’s boyfriend.” !!!!

motherjanegoose

October 19th, 2012
8:18 am

@gtmom…can he do his homework after school? Some childcare centers have homework stations.

@Voice and Mayhem….your comments show you need to step out of your yard folks…while this may seem obvious to most diligent parents, we have a large of group of parents today that are not so diligent. catlady and I see them for sure. I also meet early childhood teachers who seem to have lost their smile. This makes me sad, as 4-7 year olds should not be spending every day with grumpy teachers. We all have a bad day once in a while but we need to step it up for the kids. PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE TODAY! Yesterday, I saw over 20 early childhood teachers here in SC that were so much fun with their children. It renewed my spirit! Of course, I have known their principal for over 15 years and she is wonderful!

Many kids have no bed time. Have you eaten dinner out at 9:00 p.m. or even been to the grocery store? There are whiny tired kids out there. Even at the movies…hello? That is not mandatory! ME parents are thinking of what they need and not what their kids need. BALANCE people.

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
8:30 am

step out of my yard?????

RJ

October 19th, 2012
8:37 am

@gtmom, homework til 9? Wow! That’s entirely too much for a child that age. I would ask why is she assigning so much homework. When my son was in kindergarten his teacher sent so much homework home that I went to have a talk with her. He was exhausted from being in school all day with NO nap. She didn’t realize how much work it was for the kids AND the parents. I believe kids should be able to come home and have some time to relax.

Too many of my students tell me they go to bed at 11 or even later. They’re tired in class and can’t concentrate. It’s really a no-brainer. I still make my 14 year old go to bed; although he will try and stay up when he thinks we’re asleep!

RJ

October 19th, 2012
8:42 am

“Of course, I have known their principal for over 15 years and she is wonderful!”

@MGJ, I recently told a colleague that teaches kindergarten that I don’t see that pep in her step and energy that I’ve seen in the past. She admitted that she is exhausted from dealing with her students. We have 5 year olds this year that are angry and violent. She’s been hit several times, fights are always breaking out (there were 2 in my classroom when I turned my back to stop the music). It’s a sad day. I don’t know what’s going on in their home lives, but all I ever hear is, “My mama said if somebody hits me I better hit them back!”. It breaks your heart to see young kids being brought up to be so violent.

homeschooler

October 19th, 2012
8:51 am

@ MJG. I frequently go to Walmart when I get off work. (12:00am). You wouldn’t believe the number of elementary age kids there. I just want to scream at their parents.

Another thing that I hate is how many kids fall asleep with the TV on. Just something about needing that stimulation right up to the point of being asleep bothers me. Kids need to lay in a dark or dim room and reflect on their day, get mentally prepared for the next day etc… Not to mention sometimes the TV ends up being on all night and this interferes with a child getting a good night’s sleep.

I spend a lot of time in people’s home and talking to kids about routines. Many parents go to bed before their children (even 8,9,10 yr old kids.) These kids don’t get tucked in, they have no set rules about bed times. They might not even have a bed or sleep in their bed because it is so full of junk they end up sleeping on the sofa.

Seriously, teachers are fighting a losing battle if they are going to try to get people to have routines and get their kids in bed at a decent time. Good luck with that one.

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
8:51 am

RJ – it’s call self-defense. With todays pansy society…..this is how the bullies win. By preying on those who can’t defend themselves…..

I’ve always taught my kids that if someone hits them, they have permission to ball up their fist and hit them back. I don’t condone violence, but if someone it hitting on you, you strike back!!! And END the fight.

People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. If you stand up for yourself, they ain’t gonna bother ya!

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
8:52 am

If you cowar away, you give the other person control. Take back the control.

Voice of Reason

October 19th, 2012
9:00 am

I too, am confused by, “step out of my yard.”

/Get off my lawn!

A

October 19th, 2012
9:03 am

Good sleep habits start in infancy. If you don’t start right away, I’m convinced you lose control and you end up with elementary kids who don’t go to bed until 10 or 11 at night. And as others have said, turn off the TV and video games and anything electronic after dinner on a school night. That might help kids to wind down and be ready for bed earlier.

jarvis

October 19th, 2012
9:19 am

Kids and wife get between 9 and 10 hours a night.
I’ve always been fortunate in that regard. 5 hours is all I’ve ever needed. I fall asleep immediately, and I sleep hard.

It makes life much more productive. I’m awake 25% more everyday than most.

JOD

October 19th, 2012
9:25 am

Agree that this is a big DUH, but MJG and catlady are saying that for a large % of the population, apparently it isn’t. Apparently this falls into the ‘common sense isn’t common anymore’ category.

If for some reason DD is up later than usual, I can always tell a difference the next day, and she goes to bed early the next night. Case in point – Halloween on a school night. I bet kids are nuts the next day at school!

@gtmom and RJ – DD has a worksheet every night for pre-K. I was pretty surprised and some night I confess that I’m thinking, “Cr@p – homework!” It’s not just homework for her at 4 years old…

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
9:30 am

I read (past tense) to my kids every night before bed, for 30 minutes. They never slept with a TV on, nor did they have one in their rooms….I cannot sleep with the TV on, it drives me crazy.

FCM

October 19th, 2012
9:49 am

@ catlady I send the youngest to bed early all the time when she is out of hand with my rules. Children don’t have enough sense to listen to their bodies tell them they are tired (just watch a baby that is overtired and refusing to sleep!)so the adults need to help them.

Now sometimes things happen…I had to take the dog to the after hours vet b/c he got into something and we did not get out until almost 9 so of course the routine was mucked up! I put her to bed about 45 min past bedtime and then let her sleep 30 min later than normal…I told her we had to RUSH and why and it was tough on both of us getting her to the bus that morning. I saw her later though and she was just happy and bubbly but that night I put her to bed 30 min early. If I had not I have no doubt we would have had residual effect going on that would have been note home or call home by end of day.

Now her crazy pregnant teacher needs probably more than a nap. The kid comes home all happy smiling and showing me work she did and wants to talk about this or that happening at school..and in many ways it is a great thing. So why does that teacher say “I am sorry to say that there has not been any positive changes” when even the school principal took time to tell me she sees changes…..I will say that when you do that you lose crediabilty with the parents, we judge teachers almost as much as they judge us parents.

camille

October 19th, 2012
10:02 am

When I also visit Wal-Mart around 10/11pm after my kids are in bed, the place is full of kids. I ask the workers if this is normal and they all say YES..

I don’t understand. The kids need to be in the bed….

UNBELIEVABLE

gtmom

October 19th, 2012
10:31 am

Yes. The homework we get usually involves a parent “With a parent’s help, yada yada yada.” Or this week was a book we had to make up. Sometimes have poster projects. He can’t do these things in after school. I sometimes let him skip out on homework because I assume the teacher wants him well rested for school.

RJ

October 19th, 2012
10:55 am

@Mayhem, somehow I got through school without EVER getting into a fight! These kids will punch if you just brush up against them. These kids will fight if you talk about their mama. These kids will fight because the sun is shining. They are angry. Abnormally so. My kids are teenagers and haven’t gotten into fights at school. Why? Because they’ve been taught to at least let an adult know first. We are not in the streets, we are in a school buiding where there are rules. Parents that condone their children fighting are asking for trouble. Don’t get mad when a video shows up on youtube of a teenager getting beat up and the teacher just stands by and watches. We can’t stop a fight. It’s ugly as they get older. But hey, whatever works for you. Just don’t get mad if the “bully” is bigger and hitting back doesn’t stop the fight, but gets your kid hurt.

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
11:05 am

RJ – my kids are in their 20’s. They’ve never been involved in a fight, but were taught to NOT back down, and to defend themselves. That’s all.

Phil from Athens

October 19th, 2012
11:20 am

How much money was wasted on some study that most people with common sense could have told you 50 years ago?

Phil from Athens

October 19th, 2012
11:21 am

“I don’t understand. The kids need to be in the bed…

You should contact their parents. Oops, most of those kids probably don’t even know who mommy and daddy are.

Techmom

October 19th, 2012
11:57 am

I admit that a strict bed time has never been one of my hard-fast rules. My dad was a strict enforcer of bed time and I hated laying in bed not being able to fall asleep for hours (or at least it seemed that way). After having thought back on it, I realize that he was going a bit overboard. He had to be at work at 5am so he needed to go to bed by 8 but school didn’t start for us until 9 which means we were getting 11 1/2 hours of sleep (if we actually fell asleep right away). But being the strict guy my dad was, I wasn’t even allowed to read in bed. The last major argument I got into with my parents as a teenager was bedtime. As a senior in high school who went to college full time, my dad still wanted to enforce a bed time! In the years since he has admitted that he was too strict about that but it was what he felt was his piece of the world to control and he didn’t want to let it go.

Even though I wasn’t super strict about bed time with my son, it never really backfired b/c he has always valued sleep above anything else. Even as a youngster he would go to bed when he felt like it and it also helped he could sleep just about anywhere. I did refuse to put a TV in his room though and I think it’s a bad idea to give a kid a tv. If they’re tired and can’t sleep, let them read.

Uh, Mayhem...

October 19th, 2012
12:20 pm

…I agree with you 100% – DUH! (no matter what MJG thinks)…

FCM

October 19th, 2012
12:39 pm

I put on Yo-Yo Ma playing 2.5 hours of Bach’s Cello Suite. They actually like classical music (one plays in Orchestra) although we get our fair share of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, etc too. We have done other pieces but there does seem to be a correlation between Bach’s Cello Suite (and it really doesn’t have to be Ma but I like him best) and getting up happy/rested/easily in the morning. I am still trying to get the crazy teacher to tell me what she sees in morning work (she did finally say that she was improvement overall after I copied her boss on a few emails—but since the other one I quoted was Monday I am skeptical). It is a relaxing peices of music and even when they are restless they can just listen to that and let their minds go. I find it takes about 45 min on a restless night and 15 on a ready to hit the pillow one for them to go out. I do play the full 2.5 hours b/c playing less also seems to change the effects.

If anyone wants to give me a grant to do a full study let me know ROFL

FCM

October 19th, 2012
12:44 pm

@ catlady: “These are the kids who don’t understand that if the rule is to not do X on Monday, it is the same on Tuesday and every other day.”

Well I have one like that, and it is not because my rules change. She just has granite between the ears sometimes. It does eventually soak in and leave it’s mark but it takes a long time.

Chaos

October 19th, 2012
12:53 pm

These kids would behave better if they got in the kitchen and made me a sammach!

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
1:14 pm

Hijacking……

Have you all seen the article on the front page of this about the Ferrari car crash? What kind of an IDIOT buys his 18 year kid a car like that? $175,000. For an 18 year old who isn’t even out of high school yet.

My question is, what comes next? What is there to “work” for in the future. what could possibly top that? STUPID STUPID STUPID.

I wonder how the father feels today, knowing that the “gift” he gave is son LAST WEEK, may very well have cost two lives? Not to mention the possible innocent victims, had he hit another vehicle. What the hell was he thinking? Oh I know, “I have a ton of money, my boy needs the most expensive car money can buy, and I have absolutely NO COMMON SENSE!!!

OH MY GOD!!!!! I just cannot fathom the stupidity of buying a “child” that kind of car.

Techmom

October 19th, 2012
1:44 pm

Mayhem – what moron parents! I cringe every time my 17 year old pulls out of the driveway in Dodge truck!

Becky

October 19th, 2012
2:07 pm

My two are in the 4th grade and they go to bed about 9:30ish.. They do sleep with a TV in their room..I am 50 and have done that all my life..I cannot sleep without it on..They both do well in school and give me no problem getting up in the morning..

@Mayhem..We were just talking about that..My coworker is more worried that they were out at 4:30 in the morning..I am more like you though..What kind of idiot gives a car like that to an 18 boy? .I could be wrong, but from what I remember about 18 years when I was close to that age, boys that age drive like hell on wheels..Thankful though that both of them were ok..

Mayhem

October 19th, 2012
2:28 pm

Becky – they aren’t ok. The driver has burns over 80% of his body. don’t know much about the passenger….

kt

October 19th, 2012
2:48 pm

People who think they HAVE to have a TV on to fall asleep?? That’s a habit that you can break, stop it.

Becky

October 19th, 2012
3:03 pm

@Mayhem..OK, I didn’t read the article, just knew what a coworker told me..

@kt..It might be a habit that I could break, but I don’t want to, so..It is just something that my entire family has always done.. Sorry that it upsets you.. :)

Mommy Dearest

October 19th, 2012
6:23 pm

Smug = Mother Jane Goose

Observer

October 19th, 2012
7:23 pm

A parent handing the keys of a Ferrari to an 18 yr old? Based on what transpired, criminal negligence? On part of parent and 18 yr old?

Homework robs us of sleep

October 19th, 2012
9:13 pm

gtmom: amen!

motherjanegoose: when your kid has ADHD, the “homework center” in after school is insufficient for the one-on-one attention needed to get through hours of homework. I work til 6, drive home by 7, eat dinner. Nearly 7:30 before we can even begin. I am sure it is a wonderful thing to have the option to NOT have that schedule, but that is where we are.

Yes, that’s right, hours. I attended curriculum night for my 5th grader, and went room to room to meet his “young and no school-aged children” teachers. One teacher alone proudly annouced that homework for her class would be every school night, for 45-60 minutes (read for 30, do the reading log, and then do a whole worksheet page). I was nearly in tears when I left. When we announce the end of homework for the evening to get enough sleep, the child is punished by getting a poor grade on their assignment.

Don’t even start me on homework’s effect on scouts, sports, etc. School has taken over contriol of all family time. :-(

DB

October 19th, 2012
9:16 pm

As a certified night owl, enforcing bedtimes was a hard thing for me to do — but I did it, because it was what was best for THEM, not convenient for me. When they were young, I regularly operated on 4-5 hours sleep a night — just never needed much. As I have gotten older, I can’t really do it as much, but now that both kids are basically out of the house, I find that I tend to revert to my usual nocturnal habits. We really didn’t watch TV.

I’m a little bemused by the elementary kids who aren’t sitting down to do homework until after a late dinner. What in the heck are they doing between 3 and 8? If they are in after school, they should be getting their homework done. Ditto with a babysitter or other child care. And there’s no way in hell the (ONE) TV was ever turned on in our house until homework was finished. If they wanted to watch TV after dinner (and after helping do the dishes), that was fine, up until 8 pm. But after that, it was shower and bedtime. I mean, really — what was THAT good on TV before 8?!

Karen

October 19th, 2012
10:04 pm

If parents are needing help with the bedtime routine try a Good Night Sleep Tight sticker chart at http://www.victoriachartcompany.com They offer tips and guideline for parents to help get the sleep the whole family needs!

motherjanegoose

October 19th, 2012
10:14 pm

@ Mommy Dearest $$$ = those who pay motherjanegoose for what she knows. Since I talk for a living, that applies to anything I am getting paid for.

Stupid = motherjanegoose when she cannot figure out basic technology that most 5 year olds could operate…obvious that NO one will ever pay her for that skill…haha!

Step out of your yard= you may know a lot about the lawn you typically walk on but that does not mean other lawns grow in the same manner as the one you are used to. Not everything is as obvious to some as it is to others. That is ONE thing I learn over and over again! Working with different people every day can really open your eyes!

FCM on my cell

October 20th, 2012
6:27 am

MS homework is worse…that has 2-3 hours a night. Sometimes to bed 10:30 or 11 when u factor in reading. they have to read 6 books every 9 weeks of 150 pages. She gets up at 6:30 every morning. School lets out after 4. She does get an hour after school to unwind before hitting books again. plus time out for dinner. i did include her practice for orchestra in the homework.

FCM on my cell

October 20th, 2012
6:30 am

The neighbors say their kids are same.

ADHD kids can get their work.done at aftercare. talk to ur care giver. my ES get hers done even on club days.

Gtmom

October 20th, 2012
9:05 am

The problem is not “practice kind” of homework. My child can get that done in afterschool. The problem is when the homework consist of things like “Make a chart to show the fractions/percentages of people in your family who has brown hair.” The chart must be put on a poster board. Or cut out and paste examples of warm weather trends from a magazine. Again, the school does not supply the resources. Or “With a parent, look through your math book and come up with examples of things you want to learn.” These math books are at the house and not sent in to school and I was asked to come up with my favorite thing. All about me posters. Research and write about the country of Ireland. Have your parent play such and such math game. My child can not do these things at school. Homework SHOULD be practice of lessons learned in school and the average kid should be able to complete it on their own. Homework these days almost always require adult supervision. Heck my neighbor’s kid had to paper mache a globe and was given two nights to get it completed. The kid was in first grade and she is a single mom.