Sleep is a powerful restorative process. It helps us function better physically, emotionally, and metabolically. It helps us consolidate and form our memories, and it has a direct effect on our attention and behavior. That means, of course, that reduced sleep leads to reduced capacity to do well in school. Kids who don’t get enough sleep might even be mistaken for having ADHD. Many of the symptoms are the same— kids running low on sleep are less able to concentrate, more easily distracted, and more hyperactive or impulsive. And kids of all ages have a harder time learning when they don’t get enough sleep, from fussy, overtired infants to high schoolers nodding off in class.
The basics of sleep hygiene
Sleep is essential, but many of us, kids and adults alike, don’t get enough of it. One of the best ways to get back on track is through better sleep hygiene. This means establishing habits that promote a good night’s sleep, like setting a routine. Routines look different at different ages. For example, infants aren’t born with the same biological clock that keeps us asleep at night and awake during the day. Instead infants will sleep for a few hours and then stay awake for a few hours, regardless of the time of day. This is perfectly normal behavior for a newborn, so parents should let them stick to their natural drowsiness patterns—and try to sleep when they sleep. To avoid having an overtired baby, parents should reinforce the natural sleep schedule by starting a soothing activity after an hour or so of an infant being awake.
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