The Importance of Sleep
By Barb Talent, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
Sleep is important. We all know it, and we often talk about how we need to get more sleep. We talk about how we, as adults, need more sleep and about how we need to make sure our children get enough sleep. But we also all know that with all the demands on our time and on our children’s time, getting enough sleep is hard to do.
Sleep researchers are learning more and more about how important the role is that sleep plays in many areas of our lives. Sleep quality is related to physical health, emotional well-being, learning and even safety.
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. During deep sleep, the body releases the hormone that supports normal growth in children and adolescents, develops muscle mass and works to repair cells. Lack of sleep can also impact the efficiency of the immune system’s ability to keep us healthy.
Sleep and efficient learning are connected as well. Sleep allows the brain to consolidate learning and replenish energy. It is a critical step in the process of forming memories and retaining new information. In adolescents, getting enough sleep has been associated with getting better grades and earning higher scores on standardized tests.
So, how much sleep do we need? Sleep needs vary from person to person, but the table below gives the recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Infants, 4-12 months 12-16 hours/day (including naps)
Children, 1-2 years 11-14 hours/day (including naps)
Children, 3-5 years 10-13 hours/day (including naps)
Children, 6-12 years 9-12 hours/day
Teens, 13-18 years 8-10 hours/day
Adults 7-8 hours/day
A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 59% of 6th to 8th grade students and 87% of high school students are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. We are all familiar with the barriers to getting enough sleep for ourselves and our children. For adults, the time demands of job and home responsibilities sap time for sleep. For children, homework, sports, other extracurricular activities, and (hopefully) spending time with family and friends, compete with sleep. Getting caught up in technology is also becoming more problematic. Not only does playing games, working with a computer or reading social media directly interfere with sleep, but the blue light emitted by electronic devices affects the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. For adolescents, getting enough sleep is complicated by their biology. Their natural sleep cycles change and they are “programmed” to fall asleep later and wake up later.
What can we do? Sleep specialists suggest a number of approaches:
– Have a consistent routine
– Avoid activities that may be arousing around bedtime
– Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine
– Keep the TV, computer, video games and smartphones out of the bedroom
– Help your child (and be a good model yourself) to organize time and make choices that prioritize time for sleep
– The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement asserting that because of biology and changes in normal sleep/wake cycles that occur in adolescents, middle schools and high schools should delay the start of school to 8:30 am or later. The Academy recognizes that there are many factors complicating such changes but given the importance of sleep, it continues to advocate for such a change.
You can see that there is no magic wand on this list. Many of the keys to getting enough sleep are obvious and familiar, but still hard to put into practice in “real life.” Nevertheless, given our growing awareness of how important sleep is for so many areas of our life, it is important to prioritize getting enough sleep for ourselves and our children.
Upcoming Dates to Remember
Our office will be closed for the holidays beginning Friday, December 22, 2017 and will reopen on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.
Inclement Weather Policy
We have teamed up with Fox 2’s School Closing system, News Channel 5’s Stormwatch and Channel 4’s Warn Weather to offer your family three viewing options for office closures. If we close the office due to the weather, these three stations will list that St. Louis LDA is closed on various newscasts. It will also be listed on their respective websites: www.fox2now.com, www.ksdk.com and www.kmov.com. In the event of a large number of closures, business listings are often bumped from the newscast in favor of schools. If you do not see our listing, please check the listed websites or call the St. Louis LDA office at 314-966-3088.
In addition, we will be updating our Facebook profile, which can be accessed through the link on our website www.ldastl.org. Make sure you add us as a friend to receive the most up to date status updates for office closings and upcoming events.
Hopefully with all of these steps in place, you will be well informed in the event that the office will need to be closed due to weather. If you have any questions about this policy or would like to update your preferences, please contact the office at 314-966-3088.
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