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More Sleep Improves Kids’ Behavior in School

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Is your kid having problems at school? Before cracking down on discipline at home, consider changing his or her bedtime.

Twenty-seven minutes of sleep could be the difference between a cranky, distracted trouble-maker and a well-behaved student. According to an experimental study published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics, slightly increasing the amount of time children sleep results in improved alertness, impulse control, and emotional stability throughout the school day.

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"Even small changes in daily life that can allow children to add about a half hour of sleep could have a significant impact," said study author Reut Gruber, director of the attention behavior and sleep lab at the Douglas Institute. "Extending sleep opens the door to an effective, feasible way to improve children's health and performance.”

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The study looked at 34 healthy students ages 7 to 11. For one week, half the students went to sleep earlier than usual, gaining, on average, 27 minutes of sleep. The other half of study participants pushed bedtime back, resulting in 54 minutes of sleep lost.

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Teachers then monitored the two groups of students noted “significant differences” in the behavior of the two sets of students. Well-rested children were found to be more attentive and in control of their emotions. Students who were sleep-deprived not only appeared tired, but they were also more likely to become frustrated, cry, or lose their tempers.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends children ages 5-12 sleep 10-11 hours each night. Do your kids get enough sleep? How do you deal with bedtime struggles? Leave a comment.

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