This post was written by Laura Young, our Middle School Coordinator.
It can be hard — really, really hard — to usher an adolescent into dreamland each night. Instinctively we know how important enough sleep is, but many obstacles can thwart our best efforts to arrive on time at that quiet, lights-out, games-away phase of the day.
A review of sleep research may prompt us to renew efforts to help our kids get the sleep they need. The article “Snooze or Lose” (2007) highlights studies showing that there are large academic consequences for even small amounts of lost sleep a night. One researcher found that a slightly sleepy sixth-grader will perform at school more like a fourth-grader. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.” A study of 8th graders found a direct correlation between small increments of sleep and one letter grade to the next. Even 15 more minutes a night was significant! Scientists and sleep-researchers have a profound body of data connecting sleep to the brain’s ability to synthesize and store memories. (You can find the full article at nymag.com/news/features/38951/index1.html.)
The Nemours website KidsHealth.org also contains a wealth of easily searchable, family-friendly information about sleep. One article points out that “though kids are famous for not wanting to go to sleep, 70% said they wished they could get more of it. And almost 50% of kids said they’d like to get much more sleep than they normally get” (kidshealth.org/kid/talk/kidssay/). A research-based conversation with your child (maybe not at bedtime) about sleep could be eye-opening and lead to a collaboratively shaped plan for earlier eye-closing.
Age-specific information can be found at kidshealth.org/parent/growth/sleep/sleep.html#.
“No matter what the child’s age, these tips can help…
- Include a winding-down period in the routine.
- Stick to a bedtime, alerting your child both half an hour
and 10 minutes beforehand.
- Encourage older kids and teens to set and maintain a bedtime
that allows for the full hours of sleep needed at their age.”
I hope this information is valuable to all our parents. I know it will help me with my own teen! –-Laura