How A Good Night's Sleep Can Boost Kids' Academic Achievement

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex writer and editor. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Washington Post, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

Image by Kelly Knox / Stocksy

The way to get your kids engaged at school is actually surprisingly simple: Get them to bed on time. 

New research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 National Conference & Exhibition this weekend found kids who get a good night's sleep most weeknights are more interested in learning, care more about doing well at school, and are more likely to get their schoolwork done. 

The magic number of hours of sleep kids needed? Nine.

The study surveyed the parents and caregivers of 49,050 kids between 6 and 17 years old. Compared with less rested kids, those who got at least nine hours of sleep on school nights were 44% more likely to be curious about learning new things, 33% more likely to do all their required homework, 28% more likely to care about getting good grades, and 14% more likely to finish tasks they'd started.

"Chronic sleep loss is a serious public health problem among children," Hoi See Tsao, M.D., FAAP, who wrote the study abstract, said in a news release. "Insufficient sleep among adolescents, for example, is associated with physical and mental health consequences including increased risk of depression and obesity and negative effects on mood, attention, and academic performance. … Our research shows that children who get enough sleep are more likely to demonstrate measures of childhood flourishing in comparison to children with insufficient sleep."

As for what causes insufficient sleep, the findings showed higher digital media use, a higher number of troubling childhood experiences, and mental health issues all contributed to kids not getting enough sleep, in addition to the family's socioeconomic status and parents' education levels.

Tsao recommended families home in on addressing screen time and bedtime routines as ways to help improve sleep. "Interventions like these may help children demonstrate more measures of childhood flourishing, enhance their development, and give them brighter futures," she said.

If bedtime is not the easiest in your household, consider trying out a family meditation to help the kids wind down at night or one of these other bedtime rituals that actually work.

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