Long, Regular Sleep Leads To Kindergarten Success

Researchers have found that long, restful, and regular sleep is crucial for helping kindergarteners adjust to school.

In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, lead author Douglas Teti, a professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, Pa, stated that kids who regularly get ten hours of sleep or more before entering kindergarten reaped big benefits down the line.

The children became more engaged learners, with better social and emotional skills than their drowsier classmates, according to the study. Additionally, they showed better executive functioning by juggling multiple tasks more effectively. They were able to stay focused and remember instructions, leading to better academic outcomes.

"It was the regularity of 10-plus hours of sleep before kindergarten began that was especially predictive. What that tells me is that if we're going to be intervening and working with families with kindergarten children who have sleep problems, we really need to be starting significantly before kindergarten begins,” said Teti, adding that sleep is a bodily process that is just as important as healthy diet and exercise.

Usually, people who get better sleep do a better job at regulating their emotions and behavior. These people also function better and are more organized.

Dr. Debra Babcock, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health in California, reviewed the findings and said they provided new and helpful information.

"I think that just establishing good sleep hygiene from the very beginning — from four months, from six months of age — it's really important to start even that early," she said.

Babcock added that if they were to also look at 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds with good sleeping habits at home, it would most likely set up improvement in preschool and kindergarten years.

Past studies on adults found sleep is crucial for memory processing, mood regulation, improved relationships, and reduced health issues.

"A rested brain is just better able to function," Babcock noted.

However, because some children have difficulty in sleeping, Babcock suggested that parents talk with their child’s pediatrician for advice. Some of the things that could help include a consistent routine, a transitional object, and incentives.

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