Back to School and Bedtimes

With the start of a new School year, I would like to pass along information relating to the importance of students having regular bedtimes. A new study suggests students should have regular bedtimes to be successful in school.

At the University College London, they studied the bedtimes of young children to see how sleep impacted students test scores in school.  The long term study was of 11,000 children born between September 2000 and January 2002.  The researchers tested children at ages 3, 5, and 7 years of age.  The researchers found that children who went to bed at the same time each night had a higher test scores in reading, math, and spatial awareness than students who went to bed at irregular bed times after 9:00 p.m. The study also suggests regular bedtimes around age 3 had lasting effects on children at age 7, suggesting the toddler stage is especially important in cognitive development. Girls seemed to be more sensitive than boys to this routine at age 7, they said. The effects were cumulative, researchers said, as children who had irregular bedtimes at the time of all three tests scored consistently lower than those with regular bedtimes. The explanation may lie in two factors: social background and sleep deprivation. Students who went to bed after 9 p.m. were more likely to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.  Sleep deprivation, researchers said, harms brain plasticity — the brains ability to adapt and change. “Sleep is the price we pay for plasticity on the prior day and the investment needed to allow learning fresh the next day.  Early child development has profound influences on health and wellbeing across the life course. Therefore, reduced or disrupted sleep, especially if it occurs at key times in development, could have important impacts on health throughout life.”

Based on this research, I would suggest parents work on regular bedtime sleeping patterns along with sufficient time for students to arrive at school rested and ready for a new day of classroom instruction.  I know this is something we will be working on with my children as we try to get back into a routine to start school.


–Superintendent Ben Dalton

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