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A research study at the University of Otago, New Zealand, finds children who sleep over 30 minutes less a night have a harder time coping at school and have a lower level of health and wellbeing. Research took place in the summer of 2022 with 100 children from New Zealand aged 8-12, who typically have 8-11 hours of sleep per night. During week 1 of the experiment, children went to sleep an hour earlier than their usual bedtime routine. In week two, children’s normal bedtime schedule was kept and in week three, bedtime was adjusted to be one hour later. The study found that children who lost over thirty minutes of sleep a night saw the greatest decline in their wellbeing and ability to pay attention at school. “This sort of interventional data is the only way we can ‘prove’ that changing one behaviour actually does affect another” explains Rachel Taylor, lead author of the study and Research Professor of Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand. For parents who feel their child could benefit from more sleep, Ariel Williamson, a paediatric sleep expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommends starting out slowly, and moving children’s bedtime routines back by 15 minutes. For children to have more sleep each night, Williamson recommends calming activities are introduced before bedtime (e.g. baths, stretching and no screens for half an hour before going to bed). Read more here.

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