While healthy sleep is essential for alertness and other key functions related to academic success, research involving the impact of the amount of sleep on a child’s day-to-day behavior in school is limited. An estimated 64 percent of school-aged children (ages 6 to 12) go to bed later than 9 p.m., and 43 percent of boys ages 10 to 11 sleep less than the recommended amount each night.
In the study, “Impact of Sleep Extension and Restriction on Children’s Emotional Lability and Impulsivity,” published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 15), a modest addition of sleep each night – an average of 27 minutes among children ages 7 to 11 – resulted in significant improvement in their ability to regulate their emotions, including limiting restless-impulsive behavior in school. Conversely, children who decreased their sleep 54 minutes were associated with detectable deterioration of such measures.
Study authors say these new findings support the importance of sleep among school-age children, and the need for greater efforts to eliminate child sleep problems.