Sleep and School-aged Children (5-12 years)
Children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep. At the same time, there is an increasing demand on their time from school (e.g., homework), sports and other extracurricular and social activities. In addition, school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.

Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioural problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school.
Sleep Tips for School-aged Children
• Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
• Continue to emphasize the need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
• Make child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
• Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
• Avoid caffeine.

In his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Marc Weissbluth, MD, provides these insightful comments on the functions of sleep:
“Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well, increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best.”

Effects of the Weekend
After a weekend break, teachers are reporting that some children are coming to school tired, moody, unengaged and often belligerent. The continuous yawning, lolling over the desk and an inability to engage make learning and teaching difficult. By the middle of the week, if children have had enough sleep, they become more manageable and ready to engage in learning. This observation tells us a lot about what is happening to our children and why they aren’t in an optimal frame of mind to achieve better grades.
Then, there are other children who have sleep routines that allow their brains to function effectively and are disadvantaged by those who are sleep deprived and unengaged.
Children need plenty of sleep to be able to learn successfully. Inadequate sleep leads to inattentiveness, lack of motivation, moodiness and sometimes belligerence. When children are of school age, their job is to be an excellent student. Adequate sleep must be monitored so that engagement at school becomes a priority and then it follows that learning time is fruitful.
Sleep has been a common topic in literature, the quote below poetically tells us that the brain needs rest to resurge at daybreak.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Ann Foster
Ann Foster tutors children who have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.
Contact Ann 0n 0414340883 or email
Website: Visit the site and download your FREE High Frequency Word cards.