Do you have problems getting your children up in the morning? Some children have a harder time getting going in the morning than others. After all, not everyone is a morning person. But if you’re still having problems getting your child up for school, you may have another problem – sleep deprivation. Getting enough sleep is often difficult for both children and adults in our fast-paced society. If your child still hasn’t adjusted to getting up for school in the mornings, your child may not be getting enough sleep.
According to Extension’s Health Hints, proper rest is essential for good performance physically and academically. Recently, researchers surveyed 280 students in a suburban high school outside of Philadelphia. The students start their school day at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 2:25 p.m. The survey found that:
*78 percent of the students said they found it difficult to get up in the morning
*Only 16 percent said they felt they got enough sleep
*70 percent said they believed their grades would improve if they had more sleep
*90 percent felt their academic performance would improve if school started later in the morning
*Many students said they did not feel alert taking tests during early morning classes and don’t think they’re at the peak of their academic ability at that time
*Most of the teens said the best time to take tests would be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Teens usually need more sleep than adults. Teens need 8-9 hours of sleep each night compared to 7-8 hours for adults. Research also shows that their circadian rhythms are phase shifted so that their ideal bedtime is midnight to 1 a.m. yet they are required to get up at 6:30 a.m. or earlier for high school activities.
As parents, we need to work with our children to make sure they get enough sleep. Try to have a regular routine to help relax your child and prepare him or her to get to sleep and stay asleep for enough hours to feel well rested. Use the general guidelines below to be sure your child gets enough sleep.
The amount of sleep we need depends on many factors including age, and varies from person to person. Generally, however, sleep requirements can be approximated as follows:
*Children ages 6 to 9 need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep
*Children ages 10 to 12 need about 10 hours of sleep
*Teens need approximately 8 to 9 ½ hours of sleep
Like adults, teens may be tempted to sacrifice sleep to squeeze studying and other activities into an already full day. But less sleep does not equal more time. Research shows that sleep deprivation in teens, even if they are consistently getting just a few hours less than they need each night, can impair their ability to learn and hurt their overall performance. Research shows that sleep deprivation impairs ability to pay attention; verbal creativity and effective communication; abstract thinking; creative problem-solving and innovation; mental sharpness; decision-making involving the unexpected; adaptive learning that involves retrieving knowledge from long-term memory, adding to that knowledge and using it to solve problems and overall mood and motivation.
Studies also show that when learning certain types of tasks, those who get a good night’s sleep afterward perform better when tested the next day than those who get insufficient sleep. Researchers have found that after a person learns new information, there is activity in the same area of the brain during sleep and there is improvement in memory performance when the person is tested the next day. So getting a good night’s sleep after learning something new is a crucial step in organizing new information and strengthening recent memories.
So make sure your child gets adequate rest. You may need to adjust bedtime to an earlier time. Of course, that won’t go over very well. But after a few days, everyone will get used to the new routine and mornings will be less hectic.
Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.