Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sleep on it.....

Kids and their sleep is our topic today.  New studies question how much shut-eye is really necessary for school age kids.

Parents rely on signs from their kids - drowsiness, irritability, difficulty focusing - to determine how much sleep they need, more than calculating the exact amounts.

For about a decade, the paediatric sleep community has recommended that children three to five years old need 11 to 13 hours, children five to 10 years old need 10 to 11 hours, and adolescents 10 to 17 years need eight-and-a-half to nine-and-a-half hours of sleep each night.

Three new studies published over the last year have brought forward new information.  The first, conducted at Brigham Young University in Utah, claims that less is actually more when it comes to tween and teen sleep totals.  The BYU scientists annualized 2,000 children and found that the kids who performed best academically were sleeping less as they got older.  For 10-year-olds, the optimal snooze time was nine to nine-and-a-half hours, for 12-year-olds, it was eight to eight-and-a-half hours, and for 16 -year-olds, it was only seven hours.

The extra hours of waking time are spent studying instead of sleeping, thus improving grades. Other surveyed from the 10th century to 2009 found that children's sleep duration has declined steadily.

A recent study from McGill University from Montreal confirms that children ages seven to 11 sleep a single hour less than usual.  They exhibit increased behavioural problems, including irritability, frustration and difficulty paying attention.  Those who slept an extra hour were better behaved.

10 hours in dreamland is optimal, but some kids may need even more.  So while there is evidence that older kids who sleep a little less may get better grades, it seems reducing sleep time in order to improve your child's marks make little sense.

Read on and read always!
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