Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
154
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement
October 23, 2023

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.

Blog 154American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement

The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement (2022) describes how delaying school start times for adolescents permits more sleep and the benefits from more sleep:

“A substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement. Many studies have documented that the average adolescent in the United States is chronically sleep deprived and pathologically sleepy. An association between short sleep duration and obesity in children and adolescents has been documented. The American Academy of pediatrics recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue, endorses the scientific rational for later school start times, and acknowledges the potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement. Pediatricians should educate adolescents and parents regarding the optimal sleep amount teenagers need to match physiological sleep needs. Although napping, extending sleep on weekends and caffeine consumption can temporarily counteract sleepiness, these measures no not restore optimal alertness and are not a substitute for regular sufficient sleep.”

Starting school later, for middle-schools and high-schools, is associated with very small increases in night sleep duration for students, ranging from only 2 to about 30 minutes. However, over time, these few minutes of extra sleep produce dramatic improvements in mood, grades, prosocial behaviors, peer relationships, attention levels or alertness, and less tardiness, less restless-impulsive behavior, and fewer automobile accidents (Blog Post 6).

What about the parents? When school start times are moved later, how does this affect the parents?

Here are the results from a 2021 paper:

  • A. High schools started at 8:20am (70 minutes later than previously). Children woke up 60 minutes later. Parent’s sleep duration increased by 20 minutes.
  • B. Middle schools started at 8:50am (40-60 minutes later than previously). Children woke up 37 minutes later. Parents’ sleep duration increased by 12 minutes.

After the changes in school start times, over a two-year follow-up, the benefits for all the parents were:

  1. Parents woke up later.
  2. Parents had longer night sleep durations.
  3. Parents had better sleep quality.
  4. Parents felt less tired.

Blog Posts 127 and 150 describe how more sleep benefits children of all ages.

Blog Post 132 describes how extra sleep in mothers and infants benefit the mother-child relationship.

Sadly, many parents are unaware of these benefits (Blog Post 38).

For all young children, the main pathway to get more sleep is to move the bedtime earlier (Blog Posts 7 and 123).

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