Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sleep Troubles

Do American children get enough sleep?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of kids in the years through middle school aren't getting adequate sleep, which, for these ages, is 10 to 12 hours. James B. Maas, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, puts that figure higher, at around 85%. A study published in 1999 showed that about 10% of school-age kids through fourth grade fall asleep in school—and parents and experts will tell you that the problem, enhanced by the Age of Internet and iPod, has only grown worse. From Massachusetts to Oregon, middle schools, along with high schools, are now pushing back their start times so that students can get more sleep. Which is a great idea—unless it just gives kids yet another excuse to stay up late and watch TV. In the meantime, studies have shown over and over again that sleep-deprived children are prone to acting out, inappropriate behavior, inability to focus, depression and even weight gain, because a kid without enough energy reserves in the form of sleep tends to both eat more and exercise less.

These kids aren't merely a pain for teachers, but also can develop serious health and developmental issues. Their sleep-deprived bodies release "counter-regulatory" hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol, that not only make them hyper and incapable of focusing (time to get out the Ritalin!) but also short-circuit development, as the brain's repair-and-restore cycle doesn't have enough time to complete its dance. Yes, America's falling behind, but not because we're lazy. On the contrary. We're so frenzied that we can no longer pay attention. (Read entire post.)

1 comment:

Julygirl said...

The same could be said for the adult population. I don't think anyone gets enough sleep these days. Even when one gives themselves enough time to get a good nights sleep, they don't sleep.....insomnia is epidemic in this society.