Sleep & Learning: Why is Sleep Important for Children?

Most of us have experienced the effects of sleep deprivation after a night of poor sleep: slow reflexes, less patience, and a decreased ability to process information quickly. So, it’s no surprise that sleep deficits can impact children’s learning and school performance. During her recent Q&A with Mammoth Dr Nicola Barclay, University of Oxford Sleep Scientist discusses how not getting enough sleep can cause a child to become distracted. 

“So, we know that a tired child is a distracted one, so let’s think a little bit about the relationships between sleep and concentration. Well, we know that the early school start times really mean if children are going to bed late, they’re unlikely to get the required amount of sleep they need. So, it’s really important to push that bedtime forwards if we can, remember to expect to achieve around 15 minute advance each night.

But because a tired child is a distracted one, let’s think a bit more about that. So, sleep is really important for our cognitive function. That is our ability to maintain attention, concentration and alertness. But being sleepy also interferes with our decision making, leading us to make suboptimal choices and decisions. It affects our ability to effectively communicate with others, makes us volatile in our relationships and in our perception of others, maybe more likely to become emotional when we’re tired and act out. And this is all because being sleepy alters the levels of important neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain that regulate our emotions and cognitions.

But sleep is also essential for learning and memory. Information is transferred from short term to long term memory during sleep. So if we want our children to retain all that information they’ve learned during the day, we need to give them enough sleep to allow vital processes of memory consolidation to occur.”

At Mammoth we know a good night’s sleep starts with the right mattress. Explore our selection of premium mattresses right here on our site, or explore our blog for more updates about the latest sleep news and advice.

The full Q&A session with Dr Nicola Barclay is available on our YouTube channel here.