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Want Better Behaved Children? Let Them Sleep!

In a finding that shouldn't surprise any parent, researchers in Canada recently concluded that kids who get more sleep enjoy improved behavior in school. Conversely, kids who got less sleep are more easily frustrated and prone to displays of temper. While the study, recently published in Pediatrics, isn't the first to link sleep and behavior, it is the first to focus specifically on children. The researchers followed over thirty kids, ages seven to 11, over a two week period. After establishing an average of 9.3 hours of sleep per night, the children were split into two groups. The parents of the first group were instructed to increase their children's sleep time by an hour; the parents of the second group decreased it by an hour. Meanwhile, the teachers of the kids, unaware what group the child was in, were asked to evaluate the child's behavior both before and after the change in bedtimes. Unsurprisingly, the children who got more sleep had improved behavior, while the behavior of the children who got less sleep deteriorated. The researchers noted that it may be difficult to find additional time for children to sleep and suggested that parents add slightly more both in the morning and at night.

Source: Pediatrics. Published Online October 15, 2012.