Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waking Up to Young Kids' Sleep Troubles

An article about our sleep-deprived children – and its effects:

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.


Waking Up to Young Kids' Sleep Troubles

OK, parents: With TV, the Web, homework and social events distracting children, it's time to set limits


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SLEEP COACHES, a new set of specialists, teach parents to get kids more Z's.

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