New research from Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty shows that one impor­tant way to pre­pare to pri­ma­ry school­ing is to devel­op sleep pat­terns.

The researchers used the motion-track­ing watch to record 220 chil­dren in four week­ly peri­ods before the start of the school year. Then they mea­sured every­thing again in Sep­tem­ber, Novem­ber and April. Along with these track­ing peri­ods, teach­ers and staff assessed stu­dent adjust­ment.

If 5–6 year olds con­sis­tent­ly get 10+ hours of sleep a night, this will help them adapt to learn­ing, sci­en­tists say. Due to eas­i­er adap­ta­tion to school, chil­dren who slept from 10 hours a night showed high­er suc­cess in emo­tion­al devel­op­ment, involve­ment in learn­ing and per­for­mance dur­ing the year in kinder­garten. This was found after sta­tis­ti­cal con­trol of the ratio of income and needs of fam­i­lies, the health sta­tus of chil­dren and the num­ber of missed days at school.

With this data, the researchers also looked at the reg­u­lar­i­ty of the com­bi­na­tion of night­time sleep and nap time. As it turned out, “com­pen­sa­tion” for a night’s lack of sleep with day­time sleep does not mat­ter much when adapt­ing to school.

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