Children who regularly slept at least 10 hours a night transitioned to kindergarten more successfully than their peers, according to a new study.
“These effects were ubiquitous, extending to socioemotional, learning engagement, and academic domains,” authors from The Pennsylvania State University wrote in “Sleep Duration and Kindergarten Adjustment,” (Teti DM, et al. Pediatrics. July 11, 2022).
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Sleep Foundation recommend 5-year-olds get 10-13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Using this recommendation as a guide, researchers tracked the sleep of 221 children using wrist actigraphy verified with parent diaries. They looked at three measures of sleep — the mean amounts per 24-hour period, the proportion of 24-hour periods in a week the children slept at least 10 hours and the proportion of nighttime sleep lasting at least 10 hours.
Kindergarten teachers and trained observers assessed students’ performance academically and socially at various points during the school year.
Of the three sleep metrics, the one with the most consistent association to school performance was regularly sleeping at least 10 hours a night. Children who did so were more likely to be highly rated on behavior, relationships, school readiness and academic performance measures.
“The more consistently at least 10 hours of sleep occur during the night, the better is children’s adjustment,” authors wrote.
Sleeping at least 10 hours a night was especially helpful if it was a habit that was established before kindergarten began, according to the study.
“Good sleep hygiene (e.g., organized bedtime routines, limited screen access, and bedtimes before 9 PM) may be as critical for the well-being of children as it is for adults,” authors wrote.