In the last blog we started to look at the importance of sleep for the educational and emotional well-being of our children/students. Here is some more information about the importance of sleep for our students:
- Getting too little sleep for several nights in a row disrupts hundreds of genes that are essential for good health, including those linked to stress and fighting disease. Tests on people who slept less than six hours a night for a week revealed substantial changes in the activity of genes that govern the immune system, metabolism, sleep and wake cycles, and the body’s response to stress, suggesting that poor sleep could have a broad impact on long-term well-being.
- The lack of sleep affects the teenage brain in similar ways to the adult brain, only more so. Chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents diminishes the brain’s ability to learn new information, and can lead to emotional issues like depression and aggression.
So what steps can be taken to make sure our students get enough sleep throughout the busy and crazy schedule of this semester?
- Take Charge: The most important step is for parents to take on the responsibility of making sure their children are getting the sleep they need (they won’t do it themselves). This is not easy in today’s connected world and high-pressure academics, but is vital to ensuring that they stay healthy and that they get the most out of school.
- Set a regular bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night signals to their body that it’s time to sleep. Falling asleep then becomes much easier.
- Avoid stimulants. Encourage your student not to drink beverages with caffeine, such as soda and coffee, after 5 p.m.
- Relax the mind. Don’t allow violent, scary, or action movies or television shows right before bed — this intense activity can postpone sleep significantly.
- Get media out of the bedroom: Having a laptop, iPad, smartphone in their room means that they will sleep less -it’s that simple. Have the recharging of the device happen in the kitchen, living room, or anywhere but their bedroom.
- Set the Stage: Create an environment that helps them sleep (dark room, away from noise, cooler temps in the room, etc.).
- No all-nighters. A student’s performance is negatively affected by the lack of sleep and will result in a poor performance on tests and assignments. An all-nighter can have lasting physical effects for up to 10 days.
For those interested to learn more, here is a link to an infographic that shows all the effects that lack of sleep does to a person.