School is back in session and media is full of tips and tricks to help you and your kids off to a good start. There are apps and podcasts and coaching galore; all valuable tools worthy of checking out. But we are all looking for that one thing…the secret sauce to helping this year go better than years past.
According to Healthy People 2030, a U.S. public health objective, getting better sleep may just be the secret sauce we are all looking for. Science Daily reported that 34% of children, and 33% of adults are not getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis, while a whopping 75% of high schoolers fail to get the sleep they need. Insufficient sleep is correlated with a plethora of health maladies including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And even short-term sleep deprivation is associated with greater incidence of auto accidents and workplace injuries. Most distressing is the “silent” epidemic of depression and other mental disorders correlated with inadequate sleep, insomnia, and other sleep disorders.
In June, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published an official position statement: Sleep Is Essential To Health. While that might sound like a no-brainer, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine outlined the vital importance of prioritizing awareness and promotion of sleep health in schools, workplace, and medical practices. Many of us focus on a healthy diet and exercise to maintain well-being, yet research over the past decade has revealed that we are missing sleep as a fundamental aspect of overall physical and mental health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Sleep Foundation both concur that school age children need 9-12 hours of sleep per night and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep. In most families it is rare for highschoolers to get in bed before 11pm, yet they are generally up at 6am to get ready for school. No wonder these young people are stressed, depressed, and strung out!
In our ever-busy lives it is far too easy to think adding more programs and activities will bring greater school and life success. But science is showing us differently. It’s time to tap into the number-one tool for kids (and parents) to achieve a better-than-ever school year: SLEEP.
Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy
Check out the original research: