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We all know that sleep is vital for children of all ages and for adults. Recent studies have been diving into trying to determine HOW beneficial sleep is on various aspects of speech and language development.

Research examining the impact of sleep in school-age children suggests that even mild sleep loss produces marked deficits in their cognitive development and functioning. Cognitive development refers to the ability of our brains to learn through experience, thought and the senses.

Sleep restriction can alter children’s initial stages of speech perception, which could contribute to disruptions in cognitive and linguistic functioning — skills necessary for reading and language development and comprehension, according to recent research.

Rachel Waford, of the University of Louisville, who pioneered the study looked at several children between the ages of 6 and 7 while they listened to computer generated speech sounds. The sounds included /ba/, /ga/ and /da/. “The results showed that those children not getting an adequate amount of sleep were more likely to phonetically code incorrectly different speech sounds.” This means that the manner in which they placed the sounds were incorrect. 

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“Our research has shown that even minor sleep loss of one hour less per night for seven nights contributes to disruptions in neurocognitive functioning,” said Waford. “The early school years are crucial windows that determine future learning. Therefore, it is imperative that children in this age range are well-rested to prepare for the demands of the school day.” 

This is very important research to acknowledge. I find that, even with my own children, the more sleep they get through the day and at night, the better mood they are in the next day and the more they are able to follow directions and focus on adult-directed tasks. 

So how much sleep is recommended? Experts recommend that “children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, and school-aged children between 10-11 hours of sleep a night.”

Suggestions on How To Get Your Child To Sleep

If your child gives you a hard time about sleeping, there are several things you can try to make the process go smoother for them and for you!

  1. Set a schedule. We do bath time at the same time every night and then read books to our kids before they go to sleep. 
  2. Keep the room dark and a comfortable temperature. Kids are sensitive to these sorts of things so keeping a nice temperature will help them sleep more soundly.
  3. Avoid foods or drinks that have too much caffeine. We have the rule in our house that once you brush your teeth before bed, you get nothing else except water for the night. Too much caffeine will lead to hyperactivity and silliness. 
  4. Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  5. Kids should wake up around the same time every morning. This goes back to the whole schedule thing. Kids thrive on schedule! Keeping them regular is a positive. THere are times when that can’t happen, but every once in a while won’t hurt!
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