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Sound Sleep: The Cornerstone of a Child's Well-Being


Kylene Draeger, Aspirus Pediatrician

As the new school year draws near, parents and educators alike should be reminded of the crucial link between a child's sleep and their academic success. While children might be excited to reunite with friends and embark on new learning adventures, it's essential to prioritize their well-being, with ample and quality sleep being at the forefront.

“When children don’t get enough sleep, we see moodiness and more problems with attention, focus, and memory. Long-term there can be issues with things like obesity, high blood pressure, even depression,” says Kylene Draeger, MD, Aspirus Pediatrician.


“For ages three to five, we recommend 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night. When we get to elementary school age, six to 12 years old, they should get about nine to 12 hours. Our teenagers should get somewhere between eight to 10 hours of sleep,” says Dr. Draeger.


Sleep plays a vital role in a child's cognitive development, emotional well-being, and overall physical health, making it a non-negotiable aspect of their school routine.

Cognitive Performance: Quality sleep has been shown to improve attention, concentration, and memory retention, all of which are essential for effective learning in the classroom. When children get enough sleep, their brains can process and retain information more efficiently, making it easier for them to grasp complex concepts and excel academically.


Emotional Regulation: Sleep directly influences a child's emotional regulation. When children are sleep-deprived, they are more likely to experience mood swings, irritability, and difficulty managing stress and anxiety. By ensuring they get enough sleep, parents can foster emotional stability, enabling children to navigate the school environment with greater ease.


Physical Health: Adequate sleep is vital for a child's physical health and growth. During sleep, the body repairs tissues and releases hormones necessary for growth and development. By prioritizing their sleep, parents can help children stay physically healthy and ready to take on the challenges of each school day.


Establishing a Consistent Routine: Preparing for the upcoming school year is an ideal time to establish a consistent sleep routine. A regular sleep schedule helps regulate the body's internal clock, making it easier for children to fall asleep and wake up at the appropriate times.


Dr. Draeger states, “The most important thing with a sleep routine is consistency, always being the same. We encourage families to go to bed at the same time every night, never staying up more than an hour later, even on the weekends.”

Screen Time and Sleep: Electronic devices have become ubiquitous in children's lives, but their excessive use, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns.

Dr. Draeger says, “Parents should encourage limiting screen time, especially in the hour or two leading up to bedtime, to promote better sleep quality. I love it when families don't have phones in the bedroom because notifications go off and can keep kids from getting good, uninterrupted sleep.”


Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment: A conducive sleep environment is essential for a child to enjoy restful sleep. Parents should ensure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Removing distractions like television and video games from the bedroom can help children associate their sleeping space with rest and relaxation.


With a well-rested mind and body, children are better equipped to thrive academically, emotionally, and physically. By establishing healthy sleep habits and creating a sleep-friendly environment, parents can set their children up for success and provide them with the necessary foundation to excel in the new school year.



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