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Elementary & Preparatory Schools
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Sleep Deprivation and Today's Students

Life is full of distractions. Whether it is just a busy schedule or extracurricular activities, electronics, family time, or even a favorite television show, these activities can keep students from getting the rest they need to be successful at school. Sleep deprivation is a serious yet often overlooked problem for today’s students. By following a few simple suggestions, parents can help their children get the sleep they need to be successful students.

Beginning at an early age, parents can help their child create healthy sleeping habits and routines that will continue throughout his/her lifetime. Making sure that a child has a consistent sleep schedule is extremely important. A child’s bedtime and wake up time should be around the same time whether or not it is a school night. Having a consistent wake up time allows the body to build up adequate sleep pressure by the evening to help a child fall asleep quickly and at an appropriate time at night.

Another way to create a healthy sleeping habit is to create an atmosphere conducive to sleeping. A child’s bedroom should be a place of relaxation and quiet. His or her bedroom should also be a place of positive feelings. It is strongly encouraged not to use the bedroom as a place of punishment or confinement but rather a place of encouragement, positive feelings, and security.  The child may need a small nightlight or even a blanket or a stuffed animal to give him/her that sense of security, but a television should never be in a child’s bedroom. Additionally, the use of such simple elements as color choices, the temperature, or comfortable bedding can create a relaxing atmosphere.

There are several signs that children may exhibit if they are not getting an efficient amount of sleep. Parents need to be aware of their child’s mood; sleep deprivation can cause a child to be irritable, moody, and even cranky. Because the child is not getting enough sleep, he or she may not be able to control his/her mood, leading to frustration or becoming upset more quickly and easily. Other behavior, such as noncompliance and hyperactivity may also be an indicator of sleep deprivation. Not only will a child’s mood and behavior be affected by inefficient sleep, but his cognitive ability will also be affected. A child who is sleep deprived will have increased difficulty with his attention, memory, and creativity; all of which are important aspects of being successful at school.

Being a child is truly a fun and exciting time; it is also a time of learning and creating life-long habits. Parents have the ability to help their child develop healthy sleeping habits that will aid them during their school and professional careers. By being aware of their child’s sleeping atmosphere and the behaviors their child is exhibiting, parents can help their children avoid sleep deprivation and be successful students.

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