In today’s fast-paced society, much needed shut-eye takes a back seat to busy life styles that are work, school, children, and social lives. Now that it is summer time, the kids are out of school and vacations are planned, so sleep has slipped to an even further back burner. Once school starts again, it makes for a difficult transition. Studies show that most children don’t get enough sleep due to all the demands placed on them. Lack of sleep can take a toll in school, especially for our adolescent children of high school age.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following is a helpful guideline to determine the amount of sleep needed for each age group for children and adolescents:
Newborns (under age one) – 12 – 18 hours of sleep out of every 24
Toddlers (ages one –three years) -12 – 14 hours
Preschoolers (ages three – five years) – 11- 13 hours
School age children (ages five – ten years) 10-11 hours
Pre-teen/teenagers (ages 11-19) – 8-9 hours
When it comes to young children, the amount of sleep changes so quickly depending on what stages and phases they are going through, (midnight feedings, growth spurts, and teething) that once we, as parents, get used to a certain sleep schedule it seems to change. But like most phases with children, they are quickly replaced by new ones. Although some phases, like teething, seem to leave babies and toddlers with less sleep then they seem to need, they somehow seem to get the sleep they need. Even if as parents, we worry that they are not getting enough.
When it comes to the teenager, however, it is a different story. They have more freedom, but also more demands placed on them. They stay up later to study, or socialize, but at the same time they have an early morning start time as high school students. According to Jane E. Brody in her article Zombie Prevention: Your Child’s Sleep; teenagers need more sleep than adults. However, the times at which they get sleepy and are able to awaken naturally and feel rested, shift in a way that does not mesh with the start times at most schools. The typical teenager, sleep studies have shown repeatedly, does not fall asleep readily before 11:00 p.m. or later, yet many have to get up by 6 a.m. or earlier to get to school for a class that starts at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. More than a few students doze off during classes, and even if they are awake, they are in no condition to learn much of anything.
According to Dr. Mary Carskadon of Brown University sleep deprivation results in “three strikes against learning. Students are not awake enough to attend to information they’re supposed to be learning, their knowledge acquisition is impaired and their ability to retrieve information is reduced. What is learned during the day is consolidated during sleep.” After five nights of too little sleep, many teenagers try to catch up on the weekends, making it even harder to get up on time during the week. So as parents of teenagers out there, it may be beneficial to resist the urge to wake your teenager up too early when they have the opportunity to sleep. Although there always seems to be things to get done on the weekends and days off, it could give them much needed rest in a chaotic and sleep deprived world.