Official 2019 Sleep Recommendations for K12 Students
By Mary McWilliams
Official 2019 Sleep Recommendations for Students
It goes without saying that sleep is important. Human health and overall well-being hinges on getting enough hours of sleep, experiencing a high quality of sleep and having effective sleep-wake transitions.
Sleep is especially important for growing children and adolescents. However, there are some challenges to students receiving proper sleep. Not to mention, sleep recommendations change throughout childhood, and these changes are not always taken into account.
Variables for Sleep Recommendations
Sleep recommendations per age group vary and can be impacted by certain variables, such as:
- Use of caffeine
- Medical issues
- Athletic schedules
- Weight changes
- Other individual needs
Sleep Recommendations for Elementary & Middle School Students
Children 6-12 years old should be aiming for 9-12 hours of sleep per night, according to recent guidelines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Only around 40% are getting enough sleep, and around 12% are getting less than 6 hours of shuteye.
This is a key timeframe in a child’s life: There are major milestones, growth spurts and the start of a child’s education journey. Sleep is critical to development. Young school-age children who do not get enough sleep are at risk for “poor neurobehavioral function” and “school achievement difficulties.”
Sleep Recommendations for High School Students
For teenagers (ages 13-18), the AASM recommends 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Most, however, are not getting that amount. Seven out of 10 students are sleep deprived. Some students (20%) are not even getting 6 hours of sleep.
There are many reasons for this. For one, circadian rhythms are different for teenagers. Puberty pushes the biological clock by 2 hours. This means high school students naturally fall asleep later (post-11 p.m.), which makes the 7 a.m. class start time difficult.
- Shifting sleep cycles
- Early school starts
- Hormonal changes
- Increasing homework responsibilities
- Athletic and extracurricular activities
- Work schedules
- Screen usage & blue light impacts
Insufficient sleep in high school students is a growing issue. Only 27% of students in the CDC sleep study noted meeting sleep requirements in 2015, as opposed to nearly 31% of students in 2009. Key medical communities are taking note and recommending later school start times. Middle schools and high schools heeding this advice have seen positive results. In fact, select schools in all but 5 states have changed start times to better meet student sleep needs.
Solebury School, a private college prep school for grades 7 -12 in Pennsylvania, is one example. In the 2016-2017 school year, Solebury moved its start time later: 8:30 a.m. on four of its school days and 9 a.m. on Wednesdays. The school and students have benefited: Students are not as stressed, have more energy and academic performance is up.
The Sleep Connection to Student Well-being & Academic Success
Grades: Studies have shown a direct correlation between good sleep and good grades. Conversely, poor sleep and poor grades.
Behavior: In addition to increased moodiness, high schoolers lacking proper sleep are more likely to engage in risky behavior.
Cognitive Impacts: The ability to recall information, pay attention during class and be creative can be impaired by a lack of sleep.
Engagement: Sleep is connected to student attention spans. Students lacking sleep are also more prone to tardiness and absences.
Accidents: Sleep deprivation is linked to accidents. This can be especially detrimental for new teen drivers.
Health: Sleep is connected to physical and mental health problems. Hypertension, obesity and depression to name a few.
Healthy Sleep Habits in School Curriculum
Schools have a responsibility to helping students develop lifelong skills and be prepared for future careers. Sleep habits should not be skipped. Along with studying sleep habits and providing sleep recommendations, the CDC encourages ongoing sleep education programs in schools.
Contact us today to learn about CalmCircle’s research-driven curriculum for stress relief and sleep management, and how we help students learn healthy sleep habits and schools reach academic goals.