How a Sleep Deficit Affects Your Child

Not enough sleep can mean that your child’s success in school may be affected. MH finds out how.

WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES

If you’re wondering how exactly your child’s sleeping patterns affect his grades in school, Dr Sarah Packer, consultant family physician at Raffles Medical gives us the facts on how the following areas are affected:

Behaviour

“Sleep disorders can be associated with challenging behaviours at school and are even linked to behavioural problems such as ADHD,” she says. So, if you’re hoping for your child to be the eager model student of the class, lack of sleep can certainly come in the way.

Attention in School

“Children who don’t sleep enough may experience daytime sleepiness and find it more challenging to concentrate in school with reduced motivation, energy and initiative,” says the doctor. A sleepy child isn’t going to be retaining or absorbing as much information as he should be.

The Ability to Learn/Study

“Well-rested children are calmer and more alert with longer attention spans and improved ability to concentrate.” With the schooling system as rigorous as it is these days, having a good attention span is crucial for learning.

Memory

“Sleep is the time when our brains sort through, organise and store our memories, so good quality sleep helps to retain and remember information.” There’s no point in making your child spend longer hours studying at the expense of his sleep, especially since he’s unlikely to retain as much anyway if he’s not getting enough sleep.

The Child’s Emotions

“Children may find it more difficult to regulate their emotions when they don’t have enough sleep, leading to problems such as mood swings, irritability and hyperactivity.” An unhappy child who doesn’t have the right attitude in school is less likely to do as well as a child who is well-rested and ready for the day.

Immune System

“The immune response is suppressed by sleep deprivation which can make succumbing to infections such as influenza more likely. Studies have shown that people who are sleep-deprived develop fewer antibodies to vaccines than those who get enough sleep.” We all know health is perhaps the most important thing we can give our children. Adequate sleep is the absolute cornerstone of a healthy, happy body.

What You Can Do

There are a few things you can do as a parent to ensure that your child cultivates healthy sleeping patterns. It’s your job to coax your child to get enough sleep even if he might not want to himself. Establishing good pre-sleep habits can be very helpful, but requires some discipline:

 

Research has shown that the light from cell phones or computers just before bed can interfere with the ability to fall asleep quickly. It is best to take all electronic devices away from your child an hour or more before bedtime.

 

Also, keep the room dark and cool, and establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. In warm Singapore, a bath to get fresh and comfortable before bed may help. On top of that, lavender essential oil in a diffuser can be soothing and relaxing. Perhaps also read a bedtime story to your child every night or put on soothing music. Singing soft songs to a young child may also be helpful. Whatever you decide to do, keep your routine regular. Establish and stick to the same bedtime every night and make sure your child gets enough sleep. 

Thanks for sharing!