by Brent Brickhill

How sleep helps learning

Helping our boys to establish good sleeping habits from a young age, and reminding them of the importance of sleep, will support their wellbeing in the future and help them to achieve success. 

Children need around 10 hours of nightly sleep (teens 8-10) to meet their needs and to perform at their best during their waking days.

Research shows that insufficient sleep is linked to cognitive issues (trouble with memory, diminished focus, difficulty learning, poor judgement and decision making), behavioural issues (hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and social withdrawal), emotional issues (irritability and impaired moods, negative attitude, greater risk for depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts), academic and performance issues (lower grades, poor academic performance, tardiness.

Why does this happen?

An important molecule called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is only produced in the fourth stage of our natural four REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stages.  An interrupted fourth stage reduces our ability to build up a store of BDNF.

Students who do not sleep for a sufficient duration may as a result not function at their best.  This is because BDNF helps us to clear automatic negative thoughts, assists us to embed memories (neurological connections) and assists with the regulation of our protective flight-fight response.

How can I help my child get a good night’s sleep?

Parents can support their child to get a good night’s sleep in a number of ways. Encourage them to:

  • Establish a pre-sleep routine such as reading, practicing relaxation, or taking a bath.
  • Eat dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed.
  • Keep their bedroom tech free and avoid phones, tablets and TV prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular waking time each morning.
  • Get adequate physical activity during the day.


Download our free guide: Sleep (PDF)

 Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Brent Brickhill is a numeracy specialist (ELC-Year 6) and instructional and student coach at Brighton Grammar, an all-boys' school in Melbourne, Australia This article is about


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