Do Teens Get Enough Sleep at Home?

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By Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.
Vice President/ Education Editor

Considering the myriad of reasons students perform poorly in school and on standardized tests, the critical questions to be asked are: Do teens get enough sleep? How do children spend their time away from school? How can electronic media have an impact on student performance?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get approximately 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function at their best; however, most of them do not get enough sleep. In a large national survey from 1991 to 2012, for example, 15-year-old teens were asked if they regularly got at least seven hours of sleep nightly and enough sleep. Nearly 53 percent of the teens reported getting at least seven hours of sleep nightly in 1991 compared to 43 percent in 2012. Only 30 percent of teens noted they got enough sleep in 1991 compared to 24 percent in 2012.

Getting adequate sleep is important for a healthy mind. Some people understand this and do everything they can to improve their sleep quality, from consuming medication to buying adjustable beds (click here to learn how it can be of help) and everything in between. However, teens might not realize the importance of this. They fail to understand that without proper sleep, they would not be able to listen, learn, concentrate and solve problems. Poor sleep can also cause a teen to forget pertinent information such as numbers, names, and homework. Plus, it can cause a teen to become aggressive and impatient with teachers (according to the National Sleep Foundation).

Due to increased pressure to perform at their best in academics, many students tend to medications to stay awake. This trend is more commonly seen in eastern countries than in the West. It could be the social and cultural pressure to outperform in their academics. This can cause an overdose or fluctuations in the circadian rhythm and disrupt natural sleep. In recent years, consultations with a somnologist (otherwise known as sleep experts) have increased, as sleep deprivation has risen dramatically among both adults and children.

In an information age, children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 53 hours a week using electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, cell phones, and video games. The result leads children to get lower grades in school and be less happy according to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Other studies have confirmed that the overuse of children using electronic devices at home contributes to health issues and low student performance in school.

On a positive note, children who spend excessive hours using the internet could equip themselves with the literacy and technological skills to be successful in a contemporary society according to a study by the McArthur Foundation. The foundation postulates that children are learning how to manage a public identity, develop a homepage and get along with each other in using social media.

As an intervention, parents must recognize the importance of children getting enough sleep on a nighty basis. They must restrict students from excessive use of electronic devices including watching television. School leaders must provide workshops to discuss best practices with parents to promote student achievement since this is a national problem; and if examined closely, it could be tied directly to student performance on standardized tests.
Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of eight books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing,” “Professional Career Paths” “Your Answers to Education Questions,” “How to revitalize the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” “Completing the Dissertation: Tips, techniques and real-life experiences from Ph.D. graduates” and “Jacob’s Dream.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at rwh@theholmeseducationpost.com


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