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Feeling Sleepy?

ATC students are generally fit and healthy and come to school focused every day and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Sometimes this isn’t the case!

The answer could in fact relate to their sleeping habits and how much sleep some boys are obtaining each night.
In talking with some boys, I am concerned at the insufficient sleep some of our boys are achieving each night. With boys involved in many activities in their lives, some early in the morning or late afternoon, and then schoolwork to also complete at home, bedtimes and family routines will naturally vary. How many hours sleep does your son receive each night?

Before reading on click here to take the quiz to find out how much do you know about sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation issued a set of guidelines which outlines the following recommendations:
• School age children (6-13): Sleep range 9-11 hours
• Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range 8-10 hours
• Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours

Research has shown that a lack of sleep can affect academic performance in young children and adolescents. Dr Buckhart, an American Psychologist has studied factors that increase risk for academic failure and poor social skills in school-age children. His most recent work has examined how sleep relates to children’s development, academic performance and health.

Dr. Buckhalt: Children generally need more sleep than adults, and they are more adversely affected in some ways by insufficient sleep. We have discovered that sleep is instrumental not only in making us alert and receptive to learning, but also that it helps consolidate and preserve memory of information learned during the day. During sleep, areas of the brain that acquire and control information (e.g., the prefrontal cortex) continue to communicate with areas that help retain and organize information (e.g., the hippocampus). Every day, children are learning relatively more new information and building more cognitive skills than adults, so sleep loss has a more negative impact for children. Every 90 minutes or so, we cycle through four stages of sleep based on characteristic physiological measures. Recent research points to the importance of one of those stages, slow wave sleep, for learning and memory. Children have relatively more slow wave sleep than adults, and this is thought to relate to more need for children’s brains to process information during sleep.

Apart from the fact that these students will be up to 25 per cent less alert when they arrive at school, another problem with not achieving optimal sleep is that students are missing out on REM sleep, a particularly deep sleep vital for memory and learning. A lack of REM sleep is associated with anxiety, depression, poor immunity, accidents, poor judgment and memory.

So what can you do to help your son achieve the optimal range of sleep?

• Keep to regular sleep times and routines across all 7 days.
• Bedtime routines for all school going ages should be supervised.
• The use of devices, computers, electronic games, and televisions in the bedroom should be avoided an hour or so before bedtime.
• The charging of devices should happen outside of the bedroom space to avoid distractions, blue light and the breaking of sleep patterns due to late night notifications and messages.
• Encourage quiet activities conducive to lowering the level of arousal.
• Late night eating should also be avoided. Caffeinated drinks for our older students, should be limited during the day, but especially late in the afternoon and evening (e.g., 3-5 hours prior to bedtime).
• Ensure devices are not accessible in the bedrooms at night and 30 mins prior to sleep.

Teenagers are the most sleep-deprived segment of the population. This is a very under-recognised problem and the cost to society in the healthy development of young people is profound.’ Dr Michael Carr-Gregg

Please help to ensure that your son makes the most of their school day by ensuring they have sufficient sleep time. As Thomas Dekker, English dramatist once said, ‘Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.’

Find out more about the importance of sleep at schootv by clicking here.

Mr Michael Stewart
Head of Junior School