Primary schoolchildren that sleep less than nine hours do not perform

September 13, 2011, FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

A study by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB in Spanish) and Ramón Llull University have researched the relationship between the sleeping habits, hours slept, and academic performance of children aged between six and seven years of age. Experts have found that sleeping less than nine hours, going to bed late and no bedtime routine generally affects children's academic skills.

"Most children less than is recommended for their intellectual development, which is hindered because the lack of sleep cannot be recovered. This is the first Spanish study that proves that losing out on hours of sleep and bad habits affect schoolchildren's ," stated Ramón Cladellas, researcher at the Faculty of Psychology at the UAB.

The study's authors, published in the journal Cultura y Educación, assessed a total of 142 primary schoolchildren (65 girls and 77 boys) from different schools and which did not have any sleep-related pathological changes. Parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, concerning the children's habits and number of hours slept per night. The experts also assessed a series of academic skills: communicative, methodological, transversal and specific.

"Although the sample of children sleep almost 8 hours, their sleeping habit shows us that 69% return home after 9pm at least three evenings a week or they go to bed after 11pm at least four nights a week. As such, pupils that sleep 8 or 9 hours have a worse performance than those that sleep 9 or 11 hours," the experts pointed out.

"Taking into account the results obtained, we believe that more than 9 hours sleep and a nightly routine favours academic performance," added Cladellas.

Losing out on hours of sleep and bad habits produced negative effects, especially on more generic skills (communicative, methodological and transversal) which are essential for academic performance. However, there is a lesser effect on the specific skills, more related to cognitive aspects, such as memory, learning and motivation, and they are seen to be more altered by irregular sleep patterns.

"To this end, the lacking hours of sleep distorts children's performance in linguistic knowledge, grammar and spelling rules, and key aspects in the organisation and comprehension of texts, to name a few examples. They are basic skills, meaning that if the pupil, due to a lack of sleep, develops problems in this area, it could have a repercussion on all subjects," explained Cladellas.

The authors concluded that maintaining a healthy sleep pattern at this age contributes to positive cognitive development. They suggest that parents attend prevention programmes to become more aware of the matter.

"Nowadays, there is great concern because children are glued to the television, computers, and videogames, but the same importance is not given to them going to bed at the same time every night," concluded Cladellas.

More information: Ramón Cladellas, Andrés Chamarro, María del Mar Badia, Ursula Oberst y Xavier Carbonell. "Efectos de las horas y los hábitos de sueño en el rendimiento académico de niños de 6 y 7 años: un estudio preliminar", Cultura y Educación 23 (1):119-128, 2011.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US paves way to get 'lab meat' on plates

November 17, 2018
US authorities on Friday agreed on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells—paving the way to get so-called "lab meat" on American plates.

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Low-carb diets cause people to burn more calories

November 14, 2018
Most people regain the weight they lose from dieting within one or two years, in part because the body adapts by slowing metabolism and burning fewer calories. A meticulous study led by Boston Children's Hospital, in partnership ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.