Sleep

I can't count the number of times a student comes to me in the morning exasperated because they couldn't figure out a math question from their homework the previous night. Once we sit down and look at it it becomes clear that the student understands the content, but they have made a simple math error (like adding 2 + 3 = 6). This leads me straight to my "Math gets harder when we are tired" speech. It isn't just for them - if I am tired at work, I feel cloudy and it becomes hard for me to find their "simple math errors" too.

On to Chapter 2 in Nurture Shock by PO Bronson & Ashley Merryman! I am really getting into this book :-) Chapter 2 is titled, "The Lost Hour" and the content revolves around the sleep our children are getting.

The two big things I pulled from it revolve around learning and obesity.

Dr. Avi Sadeh did an experiment with 4th and 6th graders. He asked one of the random groups to go to bed one hour earlier and one group to go to bed one hour later for 3 nights. All kids were given a device that monitored the true amount of sleep they got. Using the device, Sadeh found that the group that went to bed earlier got 30 more minutes of sleep each night and the group that went to bed later got 31 less minutes of sleep.

The hour difference in sleep (after just 3 nights) gave Sadeh some significant data. "The performance gap caused by an hour's difference in sleep was bigger than the gap between a normal fourth-grader and a normal sixth-grader. Which is another way of saying that a slightly sleepy sixth-grader will perform in class like a mere fourth grader."  (Page 32). Scary.

Dr. Monique LeBourgeois looked at young kids staying up later on weekends. Even though kids were getting the same amount of sleep, she found that the shift in sleep caused kids to lose 7 points on a standardized IQ test.

Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom surveyed over 7000 high school students and found that, "Teens who received A's averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged 15 more minutes than the C students, and so on."  (Page 33). Even fifteen minutes can make a significant difference.

Hugh and I have worked really hard getting Calder to nap and sleep since he was an infant. Calder didn't naturally nap for 1.5 hour chunks, nor did he naturally sleep form more than 3 hours at a time at night. We did LOTS of reading and worked with him to help him learn how to sleep. Back then we felt that we were helping Calder learn a life-long skill, not to mention the fact that we were giving ourselves some sanity with some longer stretches of sleep for ourselves! Because of all of the work we did then, we now feel "lucky" that Calder is a really good sleeper. After reading this, I am even more in tune with how important sleep is. Hugh and I are really going to have to watch the amount of sleep Calder gets as he gets involved with school and extracurricular activities in the evening. I feel more affirmed in my believe that kids need a consistent, appropriate bedtime - even when they get into high school.

On to obesity - More and more research is suggesting that it isn't screen time (TV, phone, computer, etc.) that is causing the obesity epidemic in children. Kids who have less screen time aren't trading the screen time for physical activity. They are trading it for more sedentary activities. The latest research is finding that lack of sleep in children is far more damaging when it comes to their weight. Three different studies showed that "kids who got less than eight hours sleep have about a 300% higher rate of obesity than those who get a full ten hours sleep." (Page 41).  There are many different factors that contribute to obesity, but I find that research especially fascinating. Not only do kids need to get physical activity and to eat healthy, they also need to get enough sleep.

Genetically speaking, Calder is his father's son. Hugh was a skinny child and teenager, and Calder is following in his footsteps. We may never have to worry about Calder's weight, but I am certainly realizing the affects of a good night's sleep are more than just having a happy, less irritable child!

Food. For. Thought.


Comments

  1. So interesting!! Seems like I should maybe read this book! :)

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  2. We are blessed to have 4 GREAT sleepers. Even Georgette slept 11-8:30 last night and she is only two months old! The other three kids NEED at least 10 hours of sleep and Jaiden needs 12 most nights. We found the traditional school schedule did not work at all for him especially because of the sleep thing. He had to be on the bus at 7:30 so he was up at 6:45. He was not getting enough sleep and it was terrible for him.
    I think all our kids are really healthy and their sleep schedule likely has a lot to do with that.

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  3. I find this frustrating because all of my kids have been horrible sleepers and I have done everything in my power to try and get them to sleep. I truly believe that sometimes there is nothing a parent can do. I know sometimes people judge me, like I'm just not trying hard enough, but believe me! I am trying! I am exhausted and I want sleep too!

    Anyways, be thankful for good sleepers!

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