Yes, our students need sleep!

Yes, our students need sleep!
Posted on 11/06/2019
From Julie Lower, MMS Assistant Principal

We all know when our toddler or young child is crabby, it’s usually because they haven’t had enough sleep or they’re hungry. Our go-to solution is to have them take a nap, put them to bed early, or feed them. But years later, when our little boy or girl becomes an adolescent, we might just assume they are overly emotional because of hormones or stress. We may have lost sight of how important sleep is for a person’s overall mood and general well-being. Yes, our pre-teens and teenagers are under more stress than they were as a young child, and, obviously, they are handling emotional ups and downs due to their changing hormones. But, we also need to pay attention to a basic need for all people--the right amount of sleep!  

If you’ve lived through a year or two of adolescence with your child already, you’ve noticed how hard it is to get them to go to bed at a decent time. It’s like reliving the toddler years all over again in more ways than one. Well, in fact, that’s exactly what’s happening. During human developmental stages, an adolescent’s brain is developing as rapidly as it did during toddlerhood and early childhood. Growing through adolescents requires as much or more brainpower as a toddler learning how to walk, run, and talk.  During adolescence, the body is dramatically growing and the brain is developing thoughts of abstract possibilities like love and independence. With all that growth and development, the brain simply needs more rest. 

Teenagers think they’re invincible and that the need for sleep doesn’t apply to them. But you’ll be glad to be able to tell them they are indeed incorrect! They may not feel tired or sleepy, but teenagers actually need more sleep than they did during early childhood, not less! This is one argument you can win! Clinical research says for teenagers to have optimal brain function, they require at least 9.25 hours of sleep a night. However, most teenagers in middle and high school only get an average of 7 hours per night due to an increased amount of evening extra-curricular activities and homework demands, as well as increased social activities, including time spent on social media. 

Parents can help their adolescent children function better in school and in life just by making them get more sleep at night. The benefits of more sleep will include a more stable mood and increased abilities in attention, short-term memory, decision-making, and improved creativity.  I don’t know about you, but my teenager sure could use some improvement in a few of those areas both at school and at home! 

A few tips for parents on helping their teens get enough sleep at night include sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding oversleeping on weekends (especially Sundays), making them turn off the electronics, and bypassing caffeine in the evenings. When you’re fighting the good fight to get them to bed, just remember how very important sleep is for the growth and development of their most precious organ, their brain!