|Don’t Snooze, You Lose|
|Written by Maren Schmidt|
|Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:22|
After reading John Medina’s book, 12 Brain Rules, and William DeMent’s The Promise of Sleep, I began to see sleep as an important way to maintain optimum health.
As we look at children in our classrooms who tend to fall asleep during the school day and who appear to become more alert after lunch, 20 percent of the population would translate into being five night owl children out of a classroom of 25. In a school of 600 students that translates to 120 students — four to five classrooms. With a million people, we could have a city of 200,000 night owls.
Most teenagers tend to be night owls to some degree. Teens also need more sleep than an elementary-age child. Circadian rhythms in teens tend to be off the normal 24 hour cycle by around one hour, meaning that a teen has a sleep cycle that is continually changing from lark, to hummingbird, to night owl status, every 24 days. It’s amazing that any of us make it to adulthood.
In our world, night owl adults can choose work or college classes to fit their natural biorhythms. Night owl children, though, may struggle through their school days having trouble focusing, attending to the tasks at hand and keeping their sleep deprived selves under control. Loss of sleep affects attention, executive function, working memory, mood, the ability to work with numbers, use of logic and motor dexterity.
Research shows that night owl adults who try to fit into an 8 to 5 world suffer ill health affects, such as a higher incidence of high blood pressure, obesity, a weakened immune system and other health issues related to sleep deprivation.
Is it time to think about creating systems that take into account these different natural sleep cycles? Could many of our chronic health issues be related to being a night owl, or living in a night owl family and not being a night owl, or some combination of lark, hummingbird and night owl sleep habits?
What we do know: Restful sleep is important.Don’t snooze and we all lose.
Kids Talk TM is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over 25 years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit MarenSchmidt.com. Copyright 2013.