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Establishing a healthy night-time sleep habit before kindergarten starts might help your kids, study shows

The study shows that the regularity of children’s 10+ hours of night sleep, particularly before starting kindergarten, was the most important factor in predicting children’s adjustment to first-time schooling

kid sleeping on red and gray bed

In a new study led by Dr. Teti, his team hypothesized that children who get more sleep show higher levels of socioemotional and learning engagement, executive functioning, and academic outcomes, independent of health, and school attendance, compared with children with getting less amount of sleep.

To validate their assumptions, the research team recruited 230 families (out of 1158 families who initially showed interest) and 64 teachers who assessed the children, all of which were 5 years of age. The children were also given a Spectrum Plus Actiwatch worn on their wrists.

What did they find?

Of the 230 families recruited, 221 completed the full study.

Findings for Overall Mean Sleep Duration Per 24-Hour Period

  • Teachers rated children with longer sleep per 24 hours higher on overall academic performance
  • Project staff rated children with longer 24-hour pre-kindergarten sleep to be more task-oriented throughout the year, relative to children with shorter 24-hour sleep
  • When children’s sleep per 24 hours was longer than their cross-time average, children performed better at letter recognition, however, they also rated lower on school readiness

Findings for the Proportion of Nights Only in Which, Children Slept 10 Or More Hours

  • The weekly proportion of 10+ hours of nightly sleep, particularly at pre-kindergarten, significantly and consistently predicted children’s socioemotional, learning engagement, and academic outcomes across the whole year
  • Children with more nights of 10+ hours of pre-kindergarten sleep were rated more favorably by teachers on aggression, social competence, student-teacher relationships, classroom learning behaviors, school readiness, and ADHD behavior
  • Project staff rated children with more nights of 10+ hours of pre-kindergarten sleep to be more task-oriented across the full kindergarten year, compared to children with less adequate sleep
  • Children with more nights of 10+ hours of pre-kindergarten sleep were also rated by teachers as showing higher levels of academic performance across the whole year, and project staff rated children to be better at letter naming

As the authors conclude, although the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours for children attending kindergarten, the study at hand suggests that the more consistently 10+ hours of sleep occur during the night, the better the children’s adjustment to kindergarten.

If you want your kids to be off to a good start in kindergarten, make sure you get them to sleep at least 10 hours before.

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