Study links quality of sleep to math and language scores in school-aged children
MONTREAL, Jan. 8, 2015 / CNW Telbec / - It's not always easy to put children to bed at a regular time when they go to school. But a study by researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal reveals that the effort is well worth it. Indeed, researchers have found that a good night's sleep is linked to better performance in math and languages, subjects considered to be strong predictors of learning success and academic achievement.
In an article published recently in the scientific journal Sleep medicine, the researchers indicated that "sleep efficiency" is associated with better academic performance in these key subjects. Sleep efficiency is an indicator of sleep quality that compares actual sleep time versus time spent in bed.
While other studies had established a link between sleep and school performance in general, scientists in Montreal looked at the impact of sleep quality on report card grades in specific subjects. As a result, children who observed greater sleep efficiency scored higher in math and languages, but no change was seen in their scores in science and the arts.
"We believe that executive functions (the intellectual abilities involved in planning, paying attention, and the ability to multitask, for example) underlie the impact of sleep on academic performance, and these skills are more important in mathematics and languages than in other subjects, ”explains Reut Gruber, the clinical child psychologist who led this study.
Poor school performance is a common and serious problem that affects 10-20 % of children. "Short or poor quality sleep is a major risk factor for poor academic success that is often overlooked," says Professor Gruber.
The Reut Gruber team of researchers, in collaboration with the Riverside School Board in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, studied the sleep patterns of 75 healthy children aged 7 to 11. Their nighttime sleep was monitored by actigraphy, a method that assesses sleep by a wristwatch-like device that records the movements the child makes while sleeping. "We calculated the average of the data over five days to know the usual sleep pattern in children, then we established a correlation with the report card", explains Reut Gruber, researcher at the Douglas Institute and professor in the Department of psychiatry from McGill University.
Take-home message for parents
These results show the importance of recognizing sleep problems that might otherwise go unnoticed, says Gruber. This does not mean that parents have to rush to a sleep clinic to have their child assessed, but rather underscores the need for pediatricians to include questions about sleep as part of routine medical examinations, adds. she does.
"I believe that many children have sleep problems that no one knows exist," says the researcher. “And if the pediatrician doesn't ask about it, no one can know that there is indeed a problem. Regular screening for sleep problems is especially important in children who have difficulty with math, language or reading. "
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The article titled Sleep efficiency (but not sleep duration) of healthy school-age children is associated with grades in math and languages, by Reut Gruber, Gail Somerville, Paul Enros, Soukaina Paquin, Myra Kestler and Elizabeth Gillies-Poitras has been published in the scientific journal Sleep medicine (DOI: 10.1016 / j.sleep.2014.08.009).
Information on sleep in children: http://www.cacap-acpea.org/
About the Douglas Institute
The Douglas is a world-renowned institute affiliated with McGill University and the World Health Organization. Its mandate is to care for people with mental illness by offering them hope and healing. The Institute's teams of specialists and researchers continually advance scientific knowledge, integrate it into patient care and share it with the community to increase awareness and end the stigmas surrounding mental illness.
SOURCE Douglas Mental Health University Institute