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Sound sleep vital to student success

Students returning to school after summer break often can be seen with their new class schedule in hand. After all, knowing math is second period and science is after lunch is important.

According to Healthy Futures team member Sheri Robenstine, MA, another schedule is just as vital for students – their sleep schedule.

“The American Pediatric Association recommends nine hours of sleep for adolescents, which means that if you’re not getting nine hours of sleep you’re not able to focus in school and your emotional stability is not at its maximum,” Robenstine says.

The consequences of sleep deprivation, especially in young people, are real and serious. There are physical health issues to consider, as well as cognitive ones. A lack of sleep impairs a student’s concentration and problem-solving abilities.

Further, the brain consolidates and stores memories during deep sleep, so a student who isn’t sleeping enough, literally cannot remember lessons from school as well.

Robenstine says one of the best ways to ensure students get adequate sleep is to establish a steady schedule.

“Nine hours of sleep is really what’s needed for you to be at your very, very best, so make sure you have a stable routine for getting into bed and getting out of bed early in the morning,” she says.

Other tips
•Many kids include TV watching as part of their wind-down routine at the end of the day, and although vegging out on the sofa might seem like a good idea, it’s actually counter productive. The light from TVs and computer screens (yes, smart phones and tablets, too) can delay melatonin production. Melatonin is hormone that regulates other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm.

•Keeping bedrooms cool can promote better sleep. Our circadian rhythm system is light sensitive and temperature sensitive, so a dark, cool room means we fall asleep faster and stay in REM sleep longer.

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