27 June 2024

Sleep – are they getting enough?

Heads of SchoolDonvaleJunior School
Sleep – are they getting enough?
Sleep – are they getting enough?
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‘Driving tired? Wake up to yourself’ is the new campaign launched by the TAC, reminding us that insufficient sleep can impact our brain’s functioning.

It is well known that sleep is an important biological function. Sleep serves a variety of vital physical and psychological functions, including learning and memory consolidation, emotional regulation, judgement and decision making, problem solving, energy conservation, growth and healing and immunity – pretty extraordinary, right? So why is it that restless nights and insufficient sleep are becoming the societal norm?

Children and adolescents need adequate sleep for healthy growth, learning and development. Not getting enough sleep is associated with a range of physical and mental health problems and can affect a young person’s performance at school due to its impact on attention, memory, creativity and learning. Insufficient sleep can impact our brain’s functioning including our ability to remember, regulate emotion and attention. Even short-term sleep deprivation can impair these functions.

As parents, one of the most impactful ways you can support your child’s health is by promoting good sleep hygiene and instilling habits that will help your child achieve restful and uninterrupted sleep. Although sleep needs can vary dramatically from person to person, experts generally recommend the following amount of sleep for optimal health:

Age group

Recommended amount of sleep

(per 24 hours)

3 to 5 years old

10 to 13 hours, including naps

6 to 12 years old

9 to 12 hours

13 to 18 years old

8 to 10 hours

18 years and older

7 hours or more

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Tips for establishing good sleep hygiene. Image sourced from Kids Helpline.
Tips for establishing good sleep hygiene. Image sourced from Kids Helpline.

Between academic, social and co-curricular obligations, students often have busy schedules that can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and teenagers are programmed to have a later circadian rhythm. However, sleep is crucial for the wellbeing and development of children, and by prioritising good sleep hygiene from an early age, you’re laying the foundation for healthy sleep habits. Consistency, patience, understanding and limiting screen time are key as you work with your child to establish a bedtime routine which will allow for the optimal amount of sleep.

Sophie Fisher
Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale – Student Wellbeing

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