New York Magazine recently published a compelling, information stuffed article on the immense benefits of sleep for school aged kids. This article outlines the scientific data pointing to a relationship between more sleep and emotional stability and academic performance. The results were significant in as few as three days. Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University conducted a study a couple years ago which charged 77 fourth-graders and sixth-graders assigned randomly to two groups to either 1. go to bed slightly earlier for three nights, or 2. go to bed slightly later for three nights. He was able to measure their total sleep and determined that there was an hour total difference between the two groups (earlier group went to bed about 30 minutes earlier, while later group went to bed 30 minutes later). He followed up by conducting neurobiogical functioning which revealed the following:
“A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.”
This study was corroborated by another conducted by Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom on the University of Minnesota who researched more than 7,000 high schoolers in Minnesota. The correlations between sleep and academic performance are really pronounced in high school due to a sharp decline in overall sleep. A simple statement of the findings underscores that every fifteen minutes counts.
Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged eleven more minutes than the C’s, and the C’s had ten more minutes than the D’s.
MRI scans have allowed researchers to better understand just how sleep loss impairs a child’s brain.
Tired children can’t remember what they just learned, for instance, because neurons lose their plasticity, becoming incapable of forming the synaptic connections necessary to encode a memory.
And then the article goes on to talk about the tremendous outcomes school districts are reporting with a later start time. While this idea isn’t exactly catching on like wildfire, the results have to have us asking why not?