Sleep Deprivation and Poor School Performance

By: St. Paul Catholic School Last Updated: January 21, 2010

Written by Jane Scupham, principal

In one of my recent professional journals, there was a very interesting article on the sleep needs of students and the effects of deprivation on academics. I thought how timely this topic was as report cards are made available today to parents.

Are you disappointed by your child’s grades? Has their attitude changed from kind and caring to irritable and unfocused? It could well be that they are suffering from sleep deprivation. Growing students need a good deal of solid sleep time. According to some sleep experts, the “10 for 10” rule, 10 hours of sleep for a 10- year-old child, is a good one to keep in mind. Younger children need more sleep than the 10 hours needed by a 10-year-old. The authors of the article also stated how important it is to keep to a bedtime schedule even on the weekends. Studies show that modest increases of 30-40 minutes more sleep per night can improve a child’s memory, motor speed, and attention. So the reverse effects are true if a child goes to bed 30- 40 minutes later than usual. It is funny how when our children are little babies we intuitively know that when they’re cranky they need more sleep, but we seem to forget that need as they grow. I know from personal experience that my own teenage children are much more fun to be around when they’ve had a good night sleep!

Let’s help all our students perform to the best of their abilities by providing them with enough sleep every night. Consider cutting down on television viewing, family outings after 7:00 p.m., extracurricular practices in the evening hours, and other activities that would make it impossible for your child to get enough sleep to be at the top of their educational game.

Sweet dreams to all!