The Critical Role That Sleep Plays in Children’s Wellbeing & Academic Performance

Sleep is critical for life, health, movement, energy, productivity, interaction, focus and concentration. Yes, sleep is a superpower. Humans were designed to sleep, but lifestyle choices have actually hindered the way many sleep.

Concerns that children do not get enough sleep cut across generations and centuries.

A lot of children find it difficult to sleep through the night, most don’t fall into deep sleep, some sleep too much and these have been linked to various physical and psychological health challenges.

Hence there has been recommendations on the appropriate sleep durations for children and adolescents.

However, modernity and the overstimulation associated with it has cost many children the benefit of getting the sleep that they need, and this concern continues to linger among parents and professionals in the field of paediatric sleep.

Let’s picture what it feels like when an adult wakes up between 2-3am in the morning or is awake early in the morning haven worked all night. Not a pleasant experience, right?

That’s exactly how children and teens feel when they wake up between 5-6am on school days of which most of them couldn’t fall into deep sleep or had played games all night.

A survey we conducted at Equipping The Child Studio on the daily challenges children experience, some of the children expressed their inability to sleep during the night.

A particular child (age 9) said he’s unable to sleep at night because sleep is boring. It is interesting to note that some adults think that sleep is a waste of time. This has led experts in the field of sleep medicine to ask the question: “Is sleep a waste of time, or time a waste without sleep?”

There are risk factors associated to poor or lack of sleep in children such as decreased concentration, inability to retain information, impaired motor skills, lack of energy, mood disorders – some leads to anxiety and depression, increased risk of self-harm and substance use, impaired academic performance, and poor overall health and immune system.

Most bad behaviour that children engage in are linked to chronic sleep deprivation. Most poor academic performance are linked to sleep deprivation and some of the factors that lead to chronic sleep deprivation in children and teens are technology overload – television and games, lack of bedtime routine, naps too close to bedtime and health challenges in some cases.

Research shows that healthy sleep that enhances a child’s wellbeing requires adequate duration, appropriate timing, good quality, regularity, and the absence of sleep disturbances or disorders.

It is widely recognised that sleep is essential for the wellbeing and optimal health benefit of children. And some of the benefits of sleep in children are rest and recovery, brain cleansing, disease prevention, energy restoration, improved academic performance, improved interaction and relationships, calmness and improved behaviour.

If sleep is linked with all these benefits and seen as a primary healer, the question is why then do people find it difficult to sleep when necessary? Though our focus here is on children, but we know how beneficial it is for the child when the whole family is involved. Therefore, sleep habits should be considered as part of the family values as this is critical to the wellbeing and academic success of children and teens.

Sleep is a superpower for your child’s wellbeing and academic performance and most children are chronically sleep deprived in a city like Lagos where children need to wake up very early in order to go with the school bus or leave home early to avoid being delayed in traffic. Recommended sleep duration for children may not be very helpful in a city like Lagos so, here are a few things you can do to ensure good sleep habits are formed in your children are teens.

1. Ensure bedtime routine – like taking shower/bath before sleeping.

2. Proper transitioning to sleep – a dark bedroom helps with this.

3. Ensure their bedroom is not an entertainment centre – electronic free.

With children’s wellbeing at the heart of what I do, I would suggest however that families that can, should ensure sleep durations for their children and teens are observed alongside above sleep habits.

Experts in the field of sleep medicine has advised that children ages 6 – 12 years should have 9 to 12 hours of sleep, while children ages 13-18 years to have of 8 – 10 hours of sleep on a daily basis for enhanced wellbeing.

However, I would suggest that you see your child’s doctor for further advise on adequate sleep recommendation for your child.

As a certified kids’ life coach, I offer hands-on, practical, and measurable solutions to everyday challenges children may be facing before they spiral out of control. This preventive approach enables us at Equipping the Child Studio, to focus on the present moment as we inspire, motivate, and ignite the potentials of the children in our programs.

We do not deconstruct the past or try to fix perceived weaknesses of the child. Find out more about our packages and how we can support your child by contacting us on info@equippingthchild.com.

Deborah Lucky-Deekor
Certified Kids Life Coach, Founder – Equipping The Child Studio
Lagos, Nigeria.

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