Monday, March 24, 2014

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Children?

Every testing season notes go home in newsletters, pamphlets are handed out to parents, and signs are posted in the hallways all promoting good health for better test results.  "A good night's sleep" is at the top of almost every list I come across.

While it is true that a good night's sleep is important to preparing a child to do their best on a test, I wonder why these healthy habits are not enforced and recommended year-round.  Sure, encouraging a full night of rest for all students before they perform on a high-stakes test might help the school average, but what about all of those sleep deprived nights before that?  How did those less than optimal nights effect and impact students' learning throughout the year?

Well, here it is.  Gathered from these sources (The Impact of Inadequate Sleep on Children's Daytime Cognitive Function; Center for Advancing HealthSleep Deprivation: The 10 Most Profound Psychological Effects), here are the main symptoms and signs of sleep deprivation:

  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Poor reaction and processing time
  • Overly emotional
  • Hyperactivity
  • Defiant behavior
  • Increased appetite
  • Increase in accidents/clumsiness
  • Excessive or frenzied talking
  • Short term and long term memory are negatively impacted
  • Increase in risky behavior
  • Aggressive behavior
  •  Easily irritated
Have you seen these in your classroom?

Signs of sleep deprivation mirror many signs for ADD and ADHD: difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, defiant behavior, etc.

When students are sleep deprived throughout the school year, learning becomes much more difficult, and a few good nights of sleep during testing season isn't going to recover all of the previously lost learning opportunities for those children.

Rather than only promoting good sleeping habits (and healthy habits in general) during high-stakes testing season, perhaps school can do more to promote health throughout the year.

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