Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

An Hour More Sleep May Help Kids Learn

Children Learn Best When Getting Enough Sleep - Structured Bedtimes Help
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News

March 3, 2003 -- Kids beg, they whine: "Can we stay up just a little longer?" Well, there's evidence now that sleep deprivation brought about by even one less hour of sleep does make a difference in a how well a child learns the next day.

"Even minor changes in sleep ... can impair a school kid's learning, memory, attention, concentration," researcher Avi Sadeh, DSc, director of the Laboratory for Children's Sleep and Arousal Disorders at Tel Aviv University, tells WebMD. His study appears in the current issue of Child Development.

It points to the need for establishing a "sleep ritual" for young children, says Glenn Isaacson, MD, chief of the pediatric ear, nose and throat service at Temple Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. He commented on Sadeh's study for WebMD.

All too often, kids are too wired to sleep -- they've been drinking sodas, watching TV, playing video games right up to bedtime. "There's so much excitement in the house, that they want to be part of it," Isaacson tells WebMD. "It's important to establish a pattern or ritual in the evening that will help them quiet down and go to sleep. Have an established bedtime and stick to it, including during weekends."

Previous studies of adults have found that sleep deprivation significantly impairs the brain's executive control system, which helps people organize, prioritize, and focus on tasks. But few studies have focused on children. Those few have tended to examine extreme rather than modest sleep deprivation, says Sadeh.

In his study, Sadeh looked at the effects of adding or subtracting just one hour of sleep. The 77 children in his study were in fourth and sixth grades.

Each wore an actigraph, a device on the wrist that detects movement. Information gleaned from the actigraph was used to determine the children's sleep schedule -- the time they fell asleep and the duration of sleep. The device also gives researchers an indication of sleep quality -- how many times they wake during the night and how long they were awake.

For the first two nights of the five-night study period, each child kept his or her normal sleep hours. For the last three nights, the parents were randomly asked either to extend or reduce their child's sleep time by one hour.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
 
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
 
slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 
pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video