Why a Good Night's Sleep is Important For Kids

Kids have a busy life ……. there’s school, taking care of pets, chores, running around with friends, going to sports practice or other activities,  doing homework and GROWING. Everything that is alive needs sleep for their body and brain. That heavy, groggy feeling when you don’t get enough sleep is awful and when you feel that way, you’re not at your best.

Studies have shown that children who get enough sleep:

·         Are more creative

·         Can concentrate on tasks longer

·         Have better problem-solving abilities

·         Are better able to make positive decisions

·         Are more able to learn and remember new things

·         Have more energy during the day

·         Can create and maintain good relations with others

Not getting enough sleep each night can have negative consequences for your child.  Over time, not getting enough quality sleep each night can produce a range of behavioral, cognitive (mental) and emotional symptoms.

Physical Symptoms:

·         Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning

·         Falling asleep after being woken up and needs you to wake them up again

·         Yawning frequently during the day

·         Complaining of feeling tired or wanting to nap during the day

·         Falling asleep or seeming drowsy at school or at home during homework

·         Overeating

·         Reduced immune system function, so they may be sick more often

Cognitive (mental) Symptoms:

·         Lacking interest, motivation and attention for everyday tasks

·         Increased forgetfulness

·         Blurred vision

·         Difficulty learning new information

Emotional Symptoms:

·         Increased moodiness and irritability

·         Increased impulsivity

·         Increased stress throughout the day

When your child owes their mind and body sleep, this is called “sleep debt”. A large sleep debt (not getting enough sleep for many nights in a row) can result in your child feeling mentally exhausted.  It can also cause or worsen the symptoms of behaviors, such as anxiety, hyperactivity, anger, etc.




3-5 years

10-12 hours

5-10 years

10-12 hours

6-13 years

9-11 hours

14-18 years

8-10 hours

The recommended amount of sleep is a guideline, as each child is different.  Your child might need a little more or a little less sleep than is recommended.



·         Try to go to bed at the same time every night, this helps your body get into a routine

·         Stop the use of electronics/screens at least an hour before bedtime

·         Don’t watch scary movies close to bedtime

·         DO NOT have electronics/screens in your room

·         No caffeine (sodas, iced tea, etc.)

·         Take a warm bath/shower

·         Do a quiet activity such as reading a short book

·         Dim/turn off the lights

Keep in mind that some children may have a reason to wake up during the night, for example: needing to go to the bathroom, bedwetting, nightmares or sleep walking. If your child wakes up for any of these reasons try to get them back to bed/sleep with as little commotion as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about the number of times your child wakes up at night for any reason, see your family doctor – especially before considering/administering any sleep medication.


Proud School Nurse of Sheffield,

Joni Sexauer RN, MS, NCSN