COULD THIS BE THE #1 PREDICTOR OF YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS?
It is 6 am on a Friday morning, and your middle school child comes to breakfast looking like a zombie and mumbling incoherently. You hear your 15 year old daughter’s alarm going going off in the background AGAIN, and know that you will have to go in there in a few minutes to drag her out of bed. Meanwhile, your elementary school child has been up since 5:30, and will be awake at that same time tomorrow morning, while everyone else is trying to sleep in. You yourself, are wondering, “When will I EVER catch up on my own sleep?!”. All of us are dealing with the tension between what our circadian rhythms are trying to dictate to us in terms of getting enough sleep, and what our hectic, modern day lifestyles demand of us. More and more research indicates though that a deficit of sleep at any age can cause many physical and emotional health issues both short term, and long term, and this deficit can be especially dramatic for prepubescent children, and adolescents. Read more at:
In a World where “Time is Money”, and many of us are trying to be more and more productive everyday (including kids and teens with all of their activities and extra lessons), we are becoming more and more at risk of literally running ourselves and them into an early grave. As the adults in their lives, we need to help our youth find the balance that will allow them to lead a productive and healthy lifestyle while still getting the sleep that their bodies and minds demand.
This is our internal biological clock that tells us when we should be going to sleep and waking up. As a child matures, the “clock” resets itself, and a teenager’s most natural tendency will be to go to bed later, and wake up later. This change in the circadian rhythm is due to the fact that melatonin (the brain hormone that induces sleep) is produced later at night in the adolescent brain, than in the brain of younger children and adults.
THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFITS OF SLEEP FOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS:
- The release of growth hormones
- Memory consolidation
- Processing of newly learned information during the REM (rapid Eye Movement) cycle of sleep
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF SLEEP FOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS:
- Better concentration and focus during class times
- Less episodes of falling asleep in class
- Less incidences of depression and mood swings
- Better coordination in activities that require gross and fine motor skills
- Better physical and mental health overall
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT MAY BE GETTING IN THE WAY OF CHILDREN & TEENS GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
- Early start times for schools that go against their circadian rhythms
- Access to technology in the bedroom. Backlighting from computers, phones, iPad, tablets can delay the natural release of melatonin
- Increasing consumption of caffeinated drinks at younger and younger ages
- Increase in the amount of homework given to students as preparing for college becomes more and more competitive, and children prepare at younger and younger ages for their future
Counselors on the MS Pretoria Campus, JHB MS Campus, and the HS Campus will be conducting a Student Sleep Inventory Survey in the next few months to obtain sleep data for our current AISJ population.
- The data will be shared with students through the Advisory Program
- Students will learn the importance of sleep for their own success, and brainstorm ways that they can make the most of their sleep
- The data will be shared with parents through a Parent Workshop next semester (date TBA)
- The workshop will expand on the information presented in this article
- Counselor and parents will work together to address the issues facing our students
Further reading: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep