Latest studies show that teens just aren’t getting enough sleep and
this has far-reaching consequences. When teens don’t get enough
downtime, they suffer from physical ailments, poor academic performance,
and mental health and behavioral issues. We all know that young children
need sleep and routines and so we have bedtimes. But, as children get
older, we tend to forget that their brains and bodies are still growing
and that they need more sleep than adults.
Studies show that teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep. Without proper sleep,
memory and the ability to concentrate as well as higher cognitive functioning
is severely affected. This means that when your teen pulls an all-nighter
to study for exams, they are setting themselves up for a poor performance
on exam day.
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of high school
students suffered from extreme daytime fatigue which caused them to regularly
fall asleep in class. They attributed this to the average of 6.5 hours
of sleep that the students we getting.
Dr. Avi Sadeh, a lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv, conducted a study
to find out just how much sleep deprivation affected academic performance;
“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.
Lack of sleep also reduces the efficacy of immune systems and that leaves
students vulnerable to all the illnesses they are exposed to at school.
Missed school days also contribute to poor academic performances.
One of the reasons teens tend to stay up late is biological. Sleep researchers
Mary Carskadon, at Brown University, and Bill Dement at Stanford found
that at certain times of our life, our biological clocks keep us up and
make us resistant to sleep. This phenomenon is called ‘phase delay’
and occurs before and during puberty. That means that your poor teen doesn’t
feel in the least bit sleepy despite the fact that they really need their rest.
One way to encourage students to sleep is by taking a melatonin supplement
just before bed, by encouraging exercise and healthy eating and by getting
your teens to avoid computers, games and academic tasks at least two hours
A Harvard study discovered that the brain continues to learn even after
you fall asleep. This is when it consolidates information and works through
processes or steps you have learned the day before. Have you ever found
that you were struggling with something, but then after a nap or a good
night’s sleep, you suddenly got the hang of it? That’s because
while you are sleeping, your brain was working on the problem without
the noise and distractions of the day.
If you want to help your student to excel academically and be healthier
and happier, then more sleep is definitely the answer. Move your Zzzzz
to A’s this semester by making sure your students are getting all
the sleep they need.
Pic by Dave Emery