Would you like a quick tip on improving your student's grades? SAT scores? Athletic performance? Next week our students take the STAR test. It is very important that they take these standardized tests seriously as their results determine how our great school is perceived in the community. As I reflect upon the key factors that impact student performance on tests, I realize just how critical it is for our students to get enough sleep. Recent research has suggested that between 25% and 50% of teens are sleep deprived and greatly affected by their lack of sleep.
Sleep research has clearly demonstrated that sleep deprivation negatively impacts student's ability to focus in class as well as their performance on the athletic field. Many students fall asleep each day in class and suffer from tiredness in athletics. KidsHealth.org reports: "The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration estimates that more than 100,000 accidents, 40,000 injuries, and 1,500 people are killed in the U.S. every year in crashes caused by drivers who are simply tired. Young people under the age of 25 are far more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes."
One research demonstrated that sleep deprivation causes students to perform two grade levels lower academically. It causes students to crave sugar or caffeine in order to stay awake. Sleep deprivation is a factor leading to poor eating habits.
While our students live in the age of social media and text habitually, even after going to bed, it can become a serious distraction to their health. They need to have uninterrupted times to communicate with parents and family members. They need to have quiet dinner time to discuss life with parents. They need to go to bed at a decent hour to get the 8 ½ to 9 hours sleep their bodies demand. Short of that, they may be operating at a less than optimal level.
Think of your teen as an automobile requiring regular maintenance, fuel, and downtime. If the car goes nonstop without proper care, fuel, maintenance and upkeep, it will break down. Our teens are functioning as a broken down car much of the time. Parents need to step in and insure care and maintenance is provided to assist them in preparing for life. Your teen can raise their grades, test scores, SAT and ACT results by taking proper care of themselves with proper sleep and nutrition. It is important!
KidsHealth.org provides some tips that may help your teens sleep better:
Set a regular bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night signals to your body that it's time to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day also can help establish sleep patterns. So try to stick as closely as you can to your sleep schedule, even on weekends. Try not to go to sleep more than an hour later or wake up more than 2 to 3 hours later than you do during the week.
Exercise regularly. Try not to exercise right before bed, though, as it can rev you up and make it harder to fall asleep. Finish exercising at least 3 hours before bedtime. Many sleep experts believe that exercising in late afternoon may actually help a person sleep.
Avoid stimulants. Don't drink beverages with caffeine, such as soda and coffee, after 4 p.m. Nicotine is also a stimulant, so quitting smoking may help you sleep better. And drinking alcohol in the evening can make a person restless and interrupt sleep.
Relax your mind. Avoid violent, scary, or action movies or television shows right before bed - anything that might set your mind and heart racing. Reading books with involved or active plots may also keep you from falling or staying asleep.
Unwind by keeping the lights low. Light signals the brain that it's time to wake up. Staying away from bright lights (including computer screens!), as well as meditating or listening to soothing music, can help your body relax. Try to avoid TV, computers and other electronics, and using your phone (including texting) at least 1 hour before you go to bed.
Don't nap too much. Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day and naps too close to bedtime may keep you from falling asleep later.
Avoid all-nighters. Don't wait until the night before a big test to study. Cutting back on sleep the night before a test may mean you perform worse than you would if you'd studied less but got more sleep.
Create the right sleeping environment. Studies show that people sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side. Close your blinds or curtains (and make sure they're heavy enough to block out light) and turn down the thermostat (pile on extra blankets or wear PJs if you're cold). Lots of noise can be a sleep turnoff, too. Use a nature sounds or white-noise machine (or app!) if you need to block out a noisy environment.
Wake up with bright light. Bright light in the morning signals your body that it's time to get going. If it's dark in your room, it can help to turn on a light as soon as your alarm goes off.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: March 2013
Thank you for your partnership in helping our students reach their full potential!