2011 Back to School Survey Results

A study conducted by The Better Sleep Council (BSC; United States) and The Sleep Council (United Kingdom) found alarming results about parents’ beliefs on the importance of sleep in their children’s lives, aged 7-18.

The two organizations conducted the international survey to discover perceptions about children’s classroom performance and mood based on sleep. Of those surveyed, 45 percent of U.S. parents responded their child earns better grades when he or she gets more sleep, compared to 22 percent of U.K. parents. This reveals only a portion of parents, in either country, correlate sleep habits to school performance.

Additionally, 44 percent of U.K. parents and 85 percent of U.S. parents responded their child seems crabbier when getting less sleep during the school year. Internationally, parents notice the detrimental effects of sleep loss on mood and disposition. The BSC and Sleep Council want to emphasize quality sleep as an important facet of classroom success.

Jessica Alexander from the Sleep Council concluded that, “In the US there is greater awareness of the adverse effects of poor sleep habits. In the UK, sleep has not yet been given equal status with diet and exercise as being fundamental to health and wellbeing.”

The survey exposed the common misconception that childhood is carefree. Many children worry about a variety of issues ranging from school to world news. In addition to anxiety, a poor bedroom environment is a major reason children are not sleeping enough at night. Thirty-three percent of U.S. parents attribute electronics to their child’s sleep loss.

Both organizations offer these tips to help ensure children get a quality night’s sleep:

Remove electronics from the bedroom or establish an electronics curfew an hour before bedtime.

Make sure the bedroom is cool and quiet. Try and get the child into a routine.

  •  Encourage 30 minutes of exercise daily.

  •  Talk with your child about the day and ask about fears and concerns, as your child may not divulge this information offhandedly. Be sure to reassure him or her of any concerns.

  •  Check the quality of your child’s mattress. If it is seven years old or greater, replacing it may be vital to improving the sleep environment.

“Children of all ages today, especially teens, are constantly ‘plugged in,’ and have hectic schedules,” noted BSC Director of Communications Karin Mahoney. “But they need to understand that unplugging themselves from gadgets and having quiet time is really important for getting a quality night’s rest.”