Health officials say lack of sleep can affect learning

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PEORIA, Ill., — Kids across Central Illinois are preparing those backpacks and back-to-school outfits for the new school year.

Parents said being successful in school takes lots of hard work and focus.

“The world is your oyster, you can just accomplish anything you want to you know it’s all opened up to you to do, and it’s so many things you can do to accomplish your goals,” Cynthia Parker Gilkesson of Peoria said.

Local health officials and parents both have tips for what children can do to stay focused in the classroom, so they can accomplish their goals.

“Understand decisions you’re making now are going to affect you years from now, so the decisions you want to make are going to lead to your purpose and in line with your purpose and objectives,” James Gilkesson of Peoria said.

School will be back in session for many starting this week and after a summer of sleeping in, it can be tough waking up to the sound of alarm clocks again.

Dr. Sarah Zallek, a neurologist with OSF Health Care Neurological Institute said a tired child may not be alert in the classrooms.

“Sleep is really important for school for a bunch of reasons, including being awake, but also being alert and attentive paying attention not just staying awake, and also being able to learn,” Dr. Zallek said.

She provided signs you may notice if your child is not getting the sleep they need.

“If your child is sleepy falling asleep or feeling like they have to resist sleep in the day time, that’s the first clue. The second clue is if they’re inattentive or not paying attention or not sitting still all those could be related to not getting enough sleep,” Dr. Zallek said.

Parents encourage kids to have fun and study hard, but insist they put their health first.

“Get plenty of rest, you know you have to have an equilibrium of balance, you can’t go all work, you can’t go all play, you have to have a good balance in your life,” James Gilkesson said.

Sleep isn’t the only important factor for children to have a successful school year. Eating healthy foods also plays a crucial part.

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