Sleep deprivation is a significant hidden factor in lowering the achievement of school pupils, according to researchers carrying out international education tests, with 64% of 9 and 10-years-olds in England being identified as affected. This is from the BBC…
It is a particular problem in more affluent countries, with sleep experts linking it to the use of mobile phones and computers in bedrooms late at night.
Sleep deprivation is such a serious disruption that lessons have to be pitched at a lower level to accommodate sleep-starved learners, the study found.
The international comparison, carried out by Boston College, found the United States to have the highest number of sleep-deprived students, with 73% of 9 and 10-year-olds and 80% of 13 and 14-year-olds identified by their teachers as being adversely affected.
In literacy tests there were 76% of 9 and 10-year-olds lacking sleep.
This was much higher than the international average of 47% of primary pupils needing more sleep and 57% among the secondary age group.
Other countries with the most sleep-deprived youngsters were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, England [64%], Ireland and France. High-performing Finland is also among the most lacking in sleep.
Countries with the best records for getting enough sleep include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Japan and Malta.
The analysis was part of the huge data-gathering process for global education rankings – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)…
“I think we underestimate the impact of sleep. Our data show that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading. That is exactly what our data show,” says Chad Minnich, of the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center.
“It’s the same link for children who are lacking basic nutrition,” says Mr Minnich, based at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College.
“If you are unable to concentrate, to attend mentally, you are unable to achieve at your optimal level, because your mind and body are in need of something more basic.
“Sleep is a fundamental need for all children. If teachers report such large proportions of children suffering from lack of sleep, it’s having a significant impact.
“But worse than that, teachers are having to modify their instruction based on those children who are suffering from a lack of sleep.
“The children who are suffering from a lack of sleep are driving down instruction.”
That means that even the children who are getting enough sleep are still suffering from this sleep-related dumbing-down….
The article concludes…
Dr Fitzpatrick says lack of sleep is going to leave pupils more emotionally volatile, more potentially disruptive and physically struggling to learn.
And she says that the loss of sleep and short-term attempts to catch up can cause further and complex disruptions to the way the brain tries to store information.
But there is good news. If you start getting enough sleep on a regular basis, the loss to learning can be reversed.
“As long you haven’t gone into extreme sleep deprivation, if you go back to seven to nine hours per night, as long as there has been no permanent damage, you can probably restore the functionality of accumulating, processing and being able to recall memories,” says Dr Fitzpatrick.
“The basis of learning will likely be restored to normal levels.”
Otherwise trying to study without sleep is going to be tough. “Your brain is running on empty.”
More (including deprivation graph by country and video report) at: Lack of sleep blights pupils’ education