School-age children need plenty of sleep for good health and child safety. Most parents concentrate on diet and exercise, but they may overlook issues when their children don't sleep well at night. Statistics show that there are important consequences when kids don't regularly get at least 9 hours of sleep each night. These can include poor school performance, memory problems and even drops in basic intelligence.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Kids, the same as adults, might vary in the amount of sleep they require, but studies show that optimal performance occurs when kids get between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each day. According to a study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, children definitely suffered in areas of memory retention and inhibition control when they didn't get as much sleep as the control group.
Danger and Child Safety Issues
A drop in brain performance persisted after 2 years, which suggests that long-term damage can result from any prolonged period of sleeplessness or insomnia. Those mental issues can escalate into genuine mental health complications such as depression, increased anxiety and impulsive behavior, which mirrors the problems children develop from alcohol or drug abuse.
This is why learning experts, educators and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night for school-age children, not to mention older children between 16 and 18 years of age.
Children and adolescents who don't get enough sleep generally run the risk of obesity, poor mental health, more injuries caused by carelessness, diabetes, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems.
How Parents Can Reverse Children's Poor Sleep Habits
Sleep habits are learned behavior, and kids often follow their parents' examples. Changing poor sleep habits might prove difficult, but the effort often proves enormously beneficial. Creating new "healthy" sleep habits involves setting rules like lights out at a certain time, no video games before bed, no eating right before bed, etc.
Setting clear rules help children know what to expect, and they learn to embrace sleep at the right time.