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Infant Insights: The Importance of a Good Sleep Routine

By Andrea Strachan, Primary School Curriculum Coordinator, Dover Campus
22 August 2022

Welcome back to school! We hope that you and your children have had an exciting first week and are settling back into the rhythm of school life. With so many changes, new experiences and new adventures to look forward to, it is important to be mindful of ensuring we all get enough rest. 

You may find that your children arrive home more tired than normal, and may even require a bit more sleep. With this in mind, today's message focuses on the importance of ensuring a good sleep routine for young learners (and all of us!).

Is your child getting enough sleep?

One of the most important gifts you can give your child is a regular, consistent, and age-appropriate bedtime routine. Each child is different, but a guideline for the daily amount of sleep needed for the average 3–5 year old is 11–12 hours a day (including naps), and 10–11 hours a day for 6–7 year olds.

We begin our day at UWCSEA between 7.30 and 8am. I am guessing that your child must be waking up between 6–7am, depending on how close you live to the school. We do not include naps in our programme. With this in mind, your children should be asleep by roughly 8pm (at the latest) in order to ensure they have the sleep they need to feel their best for school. To have children asleep by 8pm, a bedtime routine may need to begin as early as 7pm. Some children may even need to be asleep by 7pm.

Age

Average Sleep Needs

Bedtime (for waking up around 6:30am)

3 - 5 years old

11 - 12 hours

Around 7:00pm

5 - 10 years old

10 - 11 hours

Around 8:00pm

A regular, consistent bedtime routine helps signal to the body that it is time for sleep. This might include an evening bath and a bedtime story (or two!). Tips for helping your child to fall asleep include:

  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where your child sleeps

  • Your child's bedroom should be cool, quiet and dark, and with no 'screen time' (ipad or TV) for at least half an hour prior to bedtime

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule – same time, same routine, same place each night

The University of Oxford’s Dr. Russell Foster is one of the leading experts on sleep science. If you are interested in knowing more about his work, he offers a fabulous TedTalk called, “Why do we sleep?” His research has important implications not only for our physical and mental health, but also for learning and how we view the world.

Get Good Sleep Image

Sleep is essential for learning. Sleep plays an important role in brain processing and memory consolidation. If you prevent people from sleeping after a learning task, their ability to learn is significantly impacted. Sleep is also the time when our brains take the information from the day, consolidate it, and turn it into memories. As children sleep, they reflect on their day and may come up with solutions to challenges and problems they faced the day prior.

Sleep impacts the way we process the day’s emotional information. When children are tired, they are more likely to remember negative experiences and forget positive ones. Short-term sleep loss can result in changes in behaviour -- children can become more irritable, impulsive, lack empathy, and fail to pick up on social cues from others. The ability to lay down memory, problem-solve and overall cognition can be reduced. It is important to note that an overtired child can present like a wide awake (and slightly out-of-control, hyper-energised, overstimulated) child.

As mentioned above, beginning a new learning programme can be exhausting for people of all ages, and the effect can be cumulative. We notice that some children can feel sleepy or emotional by the afternoons, and may be needing an afternoon nap. Please know that this is not unusual.  

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In K1, if you feel that your child would benefit from some additional sleep in the form of an afternoon nap, please feel free to pick up your child from school at 12pm. This option is available to you as part of our Kindergarten programme as we understand the importance of sleep, and that all children and families need flexibility in order to ensure their child has the sleep routine that works for them at this important stage in their development. 

Your child's classroom teacher will be in touch with you if they feel your child might benefit from our early pick-up option.

We look forward to connecting with you in the next few weeks for our Parent-Teacher 'settling-in' Conferences.  This will be an opportunity for you to find out more about how your child is settling in, and to ask any questions. 

 

Yours in learning,
Andrea Strachan
Primary School Curriculum Coordinator