School Performance Impacted by Sleep

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School performance is significantly impacted by the amount and quality of your child’s sleep

Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are necessary to be healthy and able to learn. If your child is falling asleep or yawning in class or while doing their homework, your child is not getting enough sleep. Other signs of inadequate sleep are grouchiness, short attention span, impulsiveness, and trouble learning. The National Sleep Foundation says our elementary school children, ages 5-12, need 10-11 hours of sleep per night.  Adjust your child’s bedtime to provide the correct number of hours of sleep. School starts at a predictable time each day. Sleeping late in the morning is not an option.

The quality and quantity of sleep determine learning and retention of that learning. Clinical psychologist Reut Gruber, director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Research Center in Quebec, Canada, led a research team examining the sleep of children. and wrote:

“According to a study, children with reduced sleep are more likely to struggle with verbal creativity, problem solving, inhibiting their behaviour, and generally score lower on IQ tests according to current leading research.  In addition, another study has shown that students who had grades of C, D, or E averaged 25 to 30 minutes less sleep per weeknight than their classmates who achieved A’s or B’s.”

The studies by Dr. Gruber research team have shown that children who do not have an adequate amount of sleep have a stronger chance of low or failing grades in school. Math and language courses require the use of memory, sequencing and reasoning;  all are functions of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain which is most vulnerable to lack of sleep.

The brain needs sleep time to take the learning from the previous day and move it into long-term memory. The deep portion of the sleep cycle is required to improve the retention of learning from the previous day.

Sleep-deprived children have more difficulty controlling their emotions and impulses

We all tend to get grouchy when we are overtired. Sleep-deprived children can be emotional and impulsive leading to problems in the classroom and on the playground. Lack of sleep contributes to a short attention span.  A tired child has great difficulty with making more than one attempt at a difficult task.

Academic and behavioral school performance is impacted by the child’s sleep.

My five sleep habits to help children succeed in school 

1. Consistent bedtime and wake-up time

The same bedtime each night sets the body’s 24-hour rhythm. The bedtime chosen should allow the child to receive the recommended 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Most elementary school-age children need an early bedtime of 7:30 to 8 PM.

A consistent bedtime will teach the child’s body to anticipate and be ready for sleep. Make sleep a priority by making their bedtime a priority.

2. Bedtime Routine

Twenty to thirty minutes before bedtime is preparation for sleep. What happens prior to sleep has an impact on the quality of the sleep.

The blue lights from TV, pads and smartphone screens wakes the brain up. Stop all screen viewing for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to bedtime.

Plan so that dinner is finished about 2 hours prior to bedtime. Sleep is the opportunity for the digestive system to rest also. The process of digesting a big meal when going to bed will make sleep more difficult.

Avoid caffeine about six hours prior to bedtime. Caffeine tends to wake the brain up and leads to light sleep or no sleep.

Develop a routine to follow each night before bed. It might include a bath, pajamas, and reading a book together or alone.

3. Bedroom environment

Make the sleep environment very dark. Use room darkening shades or curtains to keep the room dark in the evening or early morning. Do not allow any screen devices in their bedroom as they wake up the brain and interfere with sleep. Their bedroom should be boring and look like a dark cave.

The temperature of the room should be between 67 and 72 degrees.

4. White noise

Background or white noise blocks the other sounds of your house or neighborhood which might interrupt your child’s sleep.

Place the white nosie machine about 5 feet from your child to protect their hearing. A fan can also be used for white noise.

5. Sleep is a privilege

Sleep is just as important as food for your child. Teach your child to value their sleep. Each child should look forward to sleep at the end of their day.

Have a healthy sleeping and learning school year for your children!


Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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Alix Kron
Alix Kron
4 months ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
2 years ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Amanda C
Amanda C
4 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.