Reference: Advance for Speech Pathologists and Audiologists 12/14/11
Sleep deprivation impacts academics and safety.
From memory to judgment, attention span, emotional stability and even immunity, sleep deprivation negatively affects school-age children,” reports Kristin Avis, MD, a sleep specialist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UA. Of children under age 18, 60 percent polled by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) complained of being tired during the day, and 15 percent reported falling asleep at school.
The NSF has guidelines for how much sleep children of various ages require. Three-five year-olds need 11 to 13 hours per night, while 5-to 12-year olds need 10-11 hours.
“As for adolescents, it’s a common myth that they need less sleep and can handle only seven or eight hours,” said Dr. Avis. “They actually need nine hours of sleep. That’s typically the most sleep-deprived population in school.
A student can make up for the lack of one good night’s sleep, but going an entire school week without sufficient rest can be detrimental, she noted. “You can sleep until noon on Saturday and feel caught up, but then you will go to bed later that night, sleep in on Sunday, and then repeat the cycle into the new school week.”
Children need a suitable amount of sleep every night. Their bedrooms should be as tranquil as possible, which means removing noise-makers.
“On average, there are three to four electronic gadgets in a kid’s room,” Dr. Avis reported. “It’s been shown that even sleeping with a television on deprives them of 20 minutes of sleep per night, which may not sound like a lot but adds up over a week’s time.
‘Cell phones are often used as an alarm clock, but for about $5 you can invest in a real alarm clock so the phone can be turned off,” added Stephanie Wallace, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UAB.
Dr. Avis is exploring further what a bad night’s rest can do to a child. She and David Schwebel, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Youth Safety Lab at UAB, are studying sleep deprivation and pedestrian injury and general safety among children.