Back to School: Why Good Grades Come With Great Sleep

young boy lying on a bed reading a book

It’s that time of year when parents all over the UK are getting their children ready for the September school term. New school shoes, new uniform, a smart haircut, maybe a new lunch box and bag. There’s so much to do to make sure your kids feel happy and prepared after the long summer break, including a great sleep.

But one area that can lead to family battles is the change to the evening routine. The luxury of staying up late and sleeping in during the morning is well and truly over. Trouble is, children’s body clocks often take a while to adjust, leaving them tossing and turning well after they should be safely snoozing.

Sleep – it’s academic

So why all the fuss about a good sleep routine? Research has proven time and again that to thrive in the classroom, children need to feel refreshed and energised. Focus, concentration and the ability to control emotions are all linked to healthy, consistent levels of sleep. As adults, we’re well aware that lack of sleep makes us forgetful, irritable and prone to silly mistakes – and of course it’s just the same for children.

From pre-schoolers to teenagers, poor sleep habits can manifest as behavioural difficulties and eventually result in lower grades. A recent Dutch study showed that for every hour of sleep that teenagers lost, their grades dropped by 0.06 per cent. It might not sound like a huge amount, but even a small margin could mean the difference between a pass or fail in important exams.

How much is enough?

There’s no one-size-fits-all measure, and every child will be slightly different. But as a guideline, between the ages of five and 11, children should aim for 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers can manage with less, but at least nine hours is still recommended.

Teenagers tend to develop owl-like sleep patterns – a change to the circadian rhythm that can make early morning starts a real struggle. Some UK schools are beginning to address this by experimenting with later starts to the school day, but for now, most teenagers are stuck with an early-morning wake-up call, so 10pm bedtimes should be encouraged.

Top tips for sleep routines

With patience and determination, it’s possible to avoid bedtime battles and get into great sleep habits. Aim to:

  • Pick a bedtime for your child and stick to it. Tempting as it is to give in to the cry of ‘But I’m not tired!’, try not to waver
  • Turn off screens at least 45 minutes before bedtime
  • Spend quieter time with your child in the half hour before they go to bed. A bath, reading a story together, or chatting about the day will help your child to feel calm and secure
  • Double check that devices are downstairs and haven’t magically found their way into your child’s bedroom
  • Limit weekend sleepovers, so that your routine isn’t instantly undone with a late, late Saturday night. Consider reserving sleepovers for school holidays
  • Turn off your broadband overnight to prevent internet-addicted teenagers staying online till the early hours
  • Make your child’s bedroom an inviting space. Snuggling down on a comfy mattress with super-soft bedding is a sure way to encourage a restful night

Here at Sussex Beds, we’re happy to advise you on the types of mattress that will best suit your growing child’s needs. Comfort is a huge factor of course, but for children with allergies or bed-wetting issues, hypoallergenic mattresses or protective covers are options you’ll want to consider. You can check out our huge choice of children’s beds here and if you have any questions, why not give us a call on 01424 212177 or pop into one of our well-stocked Sussex showrooms for a chat? We’d love to help you get the new school year off to the best possible start!