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The Importance of Sleep - A Message from Deputy Principal - Students

As a parent, I have been acutely aware of the benefits of sleep since having my children. However, when having discussions with our students it becomes apparent that they are yet to develop this understanding. This week, a middle school student boasted that she had ‘got nearly 8 hours sleep last night’ which she saw as excessive. This prompted me to review the recommendations for required hours of sleep for children which, according to the Australian parenting website, Raising Children, are as follows:

  • children aged 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep a night

  • children aged 6-12 years need 9-11 hours of sleep a night

  • teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep a night

Many things can interfere with sleep, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the use of technology is a big one. Screen use just before bedtime can affect how quickly children fall asleep and how long they sleep for. Aside from the distractions of staying up late to chat to friends or the stimulation from engaging in online games, it is well documented that the blue light from technological devices, including televisions, may suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness.

The Sleep Foundation website state that getting consistent sleep is vital for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant brain development. They further state that evidence shows that students who experience poor quality or inadequate sleep are likely to experience problems with:

  • Decreased attention – reduced attention and focus

  • Impaired memory – difficulty forming and retrieving memories

  • Slowed processing – slowed reaction time and reduced ability to take in and analyse information

  • Worsened sequential thinking – reduced ability to remember a series of steps

  • Reduced creativity – reduced ability to make connections between diverse ideas and concepts

Aside from the potential impact on cognitive functioning, lack of quality sleep can also affect school performance because of effects on mood and behaviour. For example:

  • Poor decision-making

  • Aggression

  • Irritability and lack of emotional regulation

  • Hyperactivity

  • Depression and anxiety

The Raising Children website lists some considerations for minimising the impact of screen time on your child/teenager’s sleep:

  • Avoid screen use in the hour before bedtime. This includes mobile phones, tablets, computer screens and TV. Encourage reading or quiet play instead.

  • Limit and monitor violent content at any time of day. This can affect sleep regardless of the time and length of use.

  • Encourage your child to connect with friends during the day rather than late in the evening.

  • Have a family rule that mobile phones and other devices are left in a family room overnight.

Technology use is not the only reason our children experience poor quality and/or inadequate sleep. Other common reasons include inconsistent sleep schedules, lack of priority given to sleep, sleep disorders and other health conditions.

For further information on supporting children with healthy sleep habits you might wish to visit the Raising Children website at

Nadine Kelly

Deputy Principal - Students



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