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Big Kids

02nd Nov 2019

New study suggests not enough sleep could be the issue if your child struggles with homework

Trine Jensen-Burke

not enough sleep

The midterm has come and gone, and for most of us, this Monday will be back to reality once more.

And if you feel like bedtimes have been a bit all over the place this past week – and find yourself wondering how the heck to get the kids back into normal routines again for back to school, you are not alone.

Early bedtimes might be a struggle at times, but here is one area where you need to be strict – and now more so than ever.

Why? Because according to some new research, more than half of school-age children aren’t getting the recommended nine hours of sleep a night.

The problem? It’s not just rest they are loosing out on.

Sleep-deprived kids don’t show as many signs of development, according to a new study.

“Our research shows that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to demonstrate measures of childhood flourishing in comparison to children with insufficient sleep,” Dr. Hoi See Tsao, author of the abstract, said in a press release about the findings, which she will present at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

The researchers used data from the 2016-2017 US-based National Survey of Childrens’ Health, in which caregivers and parents gave self-reported answers. Of the 49,050 children ages 6-17 years old represented in the survey, only 47.6 percent got an average of nine hours of sleep on weeknights.

As part of the survey, the researchers asked caregivers whether children showed interest and curiosity in new things, cared about school, did their homework, completed tasks, and stayed calm in the face of a challenge. And what they found, was that those who got at least nine hours had better odds in all but that last category (only half of all kids, it seems, can be calm and collected in tough situations). The kids who didn’t get enough sleep were about 12 percent less likely to flourish in all four categories.

The biggest difference was in homework. Caregivers said 68.4 percent of kids who got eight or fewer hours of sleep definitely did all required homework, while 80.2 percent who got nine or more hours definitely did all of it.

Tsao, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital would like healthcare providers to do more to educate parents. “This research reinforces the importance of increasing efforts to maximize sleep sufficiency for children including addressing digital media usage, bedtime routines and school duration and start times,” Tsao told Newsweek.

The recommended guidelines when it comes to school-age children and sleep, is that they need on average nine to 10 or 11 hours sleep per night. Teenagers should sleep a minimum of eight hours.

Not getting enough sleep, we know, can cause a multitude of problems, from weight gain, depression and gut problems, to issues with both attention and temperament. What this new research shows is the combined advantage for what pediatricians call “flourishing markers.”

Meaning – if your child is currently struggline with homework, and find it hard to sit down in the afternoon and concentrate on their school work, try looking at the bedtime – and how much sleep they are getting. They might, as this study shows, simply need more sleep.