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The important role of sleep in student well-being

Mar. 11, 2020

Sleep is an essential part of a child’s daily routine and a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. The proper amount of sleep at night can help students stay focused, improve concentration and enhance academic performance. Students who do not get enough sleep run the risk of developing health problems including heart disease, diabetes and depression.

How much sleep your child needs
The amount of sleep your child needs to function varies, based on age. Following are recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Infants under 1 year old:  12-16 hours
  • Children 1-2 years old:  11-14 hours
  • Children 3-5 years old:  10-13 hours
  • Children 6-12 years old:  9-12 hours
  • Teenagers 13-18 years old:  8-10 hours

How to establish a healthy bedtime routine
Following are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

Keep your eye on the clock
Get your keiki to bed as early as possible. Staying up late is a big reason kids aren’t getting enough sleep. A child who heads to bed too late can take longer to fall asleep and may wake more frequently during the night. Base your child’s bedtime on his or her age and activity level and try to stick to that time during the week and on weekends.

Set the scene
A calming bedroom atmosphere can help ease sleep struggles. Be sure the room is dark enough (installing black-out shades can help) and the temperature is comfortably cool. 

Power down devices
Be mindful of electronics before bed. The blue light emitted by iPads, computers and televisions can keep kids awake. Turn off devices at least an hour before your keiki goes to sleep. Removing devices from the bedroom is also recommended.
Other healthful tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

  • Avoiding large meals and caffeine before bedtime.
  • Encouraging your keiki to exercise and maintain a healthy diet. 
  • Taking time to wind down before bed with a calming activity that does not involve electronics.

If lifestyle and environmental adjustments aren’t helping your child get a healthy amount of sleep, talk to your pediatrician.

Sleep and school hours
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends later school start times for middle and high schools. During puberty, natural shifts in biological rhythms cause adolescents to become sleepy later at night, resulting in them needing more sleep in the morning.

About 20% of schools nationally begin at 8:30 a.m. or later. Delaying school start times is associated with higher standardized test scores and a 9% increase in graduation rates. To support student well-being, Kamehameha Schools Maui recently changed its school start time from 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.



Children and Sleep
Sleep Foundation

Do your children get enough sleep?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When sleep and school donʻt mix
TIME Magazine

Better sleep habits lead to better college grades
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Teens and sleep: The cost of sleep deprivation
Child Mind Institute


Wake up, America: You're fooling yourself about sleep, study says
CNN Health

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