“It is an overlooked fact that children get an hour less sleep every night than they did 30 years ago.”
says Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in “Nurtureshock: Why everything we Think about raising Our children is wrong”,Ebury,(publ.)
The Guardian (23/11/10) printed extracts from the book which raises questions for us as educators and parents.
“Children’s brains are a work in progress until the age of 21….much of that work is done while a child is asleep.”.so.”the lost hour seems to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn’t have on adults.”
“Some scientists theorise that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in the brain structure -damage that a child cannot sleep off.”
Dr Sadeh, clinical psychologist at Tel Aviv University, carried out a study on 77 children aged 9 and 11 and found that “a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of 2 years of cognitive maturation and development.”
Even a shift in sleep patterns at weekends for under 5′s drew Dr Paul Suratt (University of Virginia) to the conclusion that ” Sleep disorders can impair children’s IQ as much as lead exposure.”
“Tired children can’t remember what they have just learned because neurons lose their plasticity and become incapable of forming the new synaptic connections necessary to encode memory.”
“Tired people have difficulty with impulse control, and their abstract goals such as studying take a back seat to more entertaining diversions.”
“A tired brain gets stuck on a wrong answer and can’t come up with a more creative solution, repeatedly returning to the same answer it already knows is incorrect.”
“Sleep deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine.”
Adolescents’ brains do not release melatonin until 90 minutes after everyone else so they fall asleep later and are sleepy at school in the morning. In Minnesota an hour’s delay in school start time resulted in a boost in Maths and verbal Sats scores and higher levels in motivation and lower levels of depression.