We all know that young children need tons of sleep, so we enforce bed times
to ensure that they get all they need to stay healthy. As children mature
and they get too old for bedtime, we forget that they are still growing
and need to get enough sleep if they are going to stay healthy and happy.
Teenagers need more sleep than adults do. In their teenage years, changes
brought on by puberty and growth requires young adults to sleep for 9
hours a night as opposed to the 6 to 8 recommended for adults.
Circadian rhythms are the body’s natural biological rhythms which
are governed by expose to natural light. Circadian rhythms are the chemical,
behavioural and physiological changes that occur in our bodies throughout
the day. Circadian rhythms help us to get up in the morning or fall asleep
at night. When these rhythms are disturbed and this, in turn, disrupts
sleep patterns, it seriously compromises your child’s ability to
concentrate at school.
Sleep deprivation leads to a plethora of symptoms including memory deficits,
an inability to concentrate and delayed responses. It also negatively
affects your child’s immune system and renders them vulnerable to
diseases they are exposed to at school. Children who don’t get enough
sleep will be sick more often and miss school. Not getting enough sleep
before exams can also severely impair performance on the exam itself.
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation saw some disturbing statistics
with 60% of high school students reporting extreme daytime fatigue with
25% falling asleep in class at least once a week. The main reason for
this was that the average high school student got 6.5 hours of sleep per
night; way below the required 9 hours recommended.
A University of Tel Aviv lecturer, Dr. Avi Sadeh, conducted a study to
find out just how much sleep deprivation affected academic performance.
His findings were shocking; “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent
to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.”
What this means practically is that a sleepy eighth grader will perform
academically closer to a sixth grade level.
What this spells for many high schools is a need to start later, allowing
students more time to sleep in the morning. It also means that students
who stay up late to cram before an exam are less likely to perform well
than those who get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to health problems, obesity, depression
and stress. The body needs its sleep in order to restore and heal. Make
sure that your teenager is getting their beauty sleep every night, especially