How Does Sleep Affect Your Kid’s Success at School?

For many different reasons, our children hold a lousy habit to sleep less during the middle and high school years despite many protests from their teachers and great dissatisfaction with their parents. The National Sleep Foundation suggests how much sleep kids really need.

Despite their recommendation, the most students don’t sleep enough, and they spend in their beds about 6.5 hours a night on average. Obviously, this bad practice ultimately negatively influences their mood and complete academic performance.

Importance of Sleep For Kids

Every child is biochemically unique and has her own system of sleeping. The healthy sleep rhythm is entirely established up to six months of her age. By the age of two, your child will probably spend about 40% of her childhood sleeping. It is important due to impacts of sleep on child’s physical and mental development.

Lack of sleep will cause lousy memory, aggressive behavior, tantrums, bullying, whininess, and so on. Plus, the child’s brain catalogs all the daily information as memories during sleep. Without an adequate number of sleeping hours, you can expect that your kid will be absent-minded, less motivated, and focused.

Lack of sleep will also affect your child’s physical health because adequate sleep-pattern supports the immune system. During sleep, your child’s body releases antibodies and cytokines which cope with infection. Also, keep in mind that the number of white blood cells drops up to 20% if your child doesn’t sleep properly. All of that can be reasons why you can see your little one sleeps more if she is under stress, ill, or has a high temperature.

One more crucial thing! Your child really grows during the sleep because a pituitary gland secretes Somatotropin (growth hormone) primarily during her sleeping. Think about it!

Best Bedtime for Your Child

There is no such a thing as the best bedtime for your child. It can vary depending on family habits and the morning hour when your little one needs to wake up. I can give you only guidelines about the average number of sleeping hours for a particular age which recommends National Sleep Foundation.

Age Sleep range
Preschoolers (3-5) 10-13 hours
School-age children (6-13) 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17) 8-10 hours
Younger adults (18-25) 7-9 hours


You are surprised, aren’t you? Your teen needs nine hours of sleep? Unfortunately, only 15% of them sleep enough. And this can’t be without consequences for their health and with no impact on their behavior.

Sleep tips for your preschooler:

  • Provide a consistent sleep schedule for your child
  • Organize a relaxing bedtime routine for her
  • Try to keep the same sleeping environment for your child every single night
  • Your child should sleep in the room without TV and a computer

Sleep tips for your school-aged child

Sleep tips for your teenager

  • Help your child to organize her obligations so that she has time to get enough sleep
  • Don’t let your teen becomes a ‘walking zombie’ because of lack of sleep
  • Prevent your child’s depression and possible suicidal thoughts by insisting that she goes to sleep until 10 PM
  • Keep in mind that just twenty minutes of extra sleep can make s difference in your child’s daytime functioning

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect the Behavior of Your Child?

When your child is affected by lack of sleep, she will continuously be tired and sleepy. Her behavior will change dramatically with every hour she shortens her regular sleep.

1 – Bad mood and depression

If your child doesn’t sleep enough, she will have a lot of troubles to manage her emotions. Consequently, your child will seem anxious, irritable, and (or) depressed. You can expect that she will become frustrated very easily; prone to frequent changes of mood, and more often impatient. Some studies show that up to 24% of teens who go to bed after midnight will suffer from anxiety and depression.

2 – Emotionally unpredictability

According to the results of studies, school-aged children who lose half an hour of night sleep behave much more inferior than their peers who have enough sleep during the night. Teachers warn that sleeping in school is a growing problem among students because they are forgetful, frustrated, moody, restless, clumsy, weepy, lose their temper very quickly, and show increased unpredictability and lack of enthusiasm.

[Read More: Aggressive Children]

3 – Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is a growing problem among the children of the 21st century. Without enough sleep, kids can show visible symptoms of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) which includes inclination towards bad-temper, hyperactivity, aggression, tantrums, and so on. Don’t allow that just half an hour less sleep per night avert solving this severe issue.

4 – Impulsivity and clumsiness

Very often the consequence of lack of sleep is insufficiently developed prefrontal cortex. Therefore, many teens, mainly boys accept risky behavior model and act before thinking about their action first. Unfortunately, such dangerous behavior along with frequent lack of coordination too often leads to various accidents and injuries.

How Sleep Affects Learning?

Do you know that the highest grade point average (GPA) have teens who go to bed between 10 PM and 11 PM? Well, that is true. It seems that the only way for your child to be among the best students is to sleep at least eight hours during the night.

Nevertheless, the worrying fact is that only 29% of students reach the recommended overnight number of hours of sleep. Please, don’t let your child be among this 29% of schoolers. I will list here the most common disorders connected with lack of sleep which occur in children of school age.

1 – Memory decreasing

Your child’s brain processes information she receives during the day. Without the quality night sleep, child’s brain is not able to refresh and retain received information. Knowing that everything your preschooler learns is new information for her, it is obvious how many difficulties with learning your kid will have if she doesn’t sleep enough during the night.

2 – Problems with attention

Lack of sleep is a common reason why your child slower reacts when asked a question or has difficulty focusing on instructions and listening to the teacher. Consequently, your child can miss information from lectures out.

3 – Reducing of cognitive functioning

Do you know that if your preschooler spends just one night without an adequate amount of sleep, her abstract thinking and verbal creativity will be disturbed? That means that your child will have troubles with mental processes such as processing speed, attention, executive function, learning and memory, working memory, verbal fluency, and so on. To put it simply, your kid won’t be able to describe a painting or to make optimal quick decisions under increased physiological stress.

4 – Poor academic performance

Believe me or not, there is a direct link between enough night sleep and academic performance of the students because less than eight hours of sleep lead to decreasing in kid’s cognitive function. If you want your child reaches a higher level of performing in school, you should encourage her to adopt regular sleep habits. Only in that way, she will get enough energy, and she will be able to concentrate and focus better, solve creative problems, and retain information. Basically, the more your child learns, the more she needs to sleep.

Warning Signs of Sleep Deprivation

According to the results of various studies, 35 – 40% of school-age children and teenagers experience some form of sleep deprivation which can damage their brains. You should pay attention to sure signs that your child has a problem with sleep deprivation:

Emotional problems

  • Excessive emotional reactions
  • The occurrence of inadequate emotional control
  • Greater likelihood of depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • The appearance of withdrawal and anxiety
  • Immoderate talking
  • Sleeping in school during classes (inadvertent napping)

Problems with bad behaving

  • Behavioral issues
  • Overreaction to relatively minor events
  • Problems with regulating their moods

Intellectual problems

  • Difficulties with focusing and (or) concentrating
  • Issues with reasoning and attention
  • Troubles with solving problems
  • Reduced ability to carry out math calculations
  • Poorer executive function (when child’s brain can’t process information and respond to them adequately)
  • Poor academic performance
  • Impaired memory

Sleeping problems

  • Difficulties with awakening in the morning
  • Troubles with falling asleep
  • Too long and (or) excessive naps

Problems with hazard behavior

  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased tendency to accidents
  • Inability to think before the action

Diet problems

If you can’t find a way to help your child to normalize her night sleep, you should ask your doctor for advice.

Be careful. Apart from behavioral disorders and poor school performance, if your child sleeps less than seven hours per night, there is a higher probability of disruption of a child’s brain development. Also, your child will have a predisposition to serious illness because of dropping the number of white blood cells in her body. Additionally, she will be at risk to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, frequent mental distress, stroke, and so on.