An interesting topic at the Youth Specialties blog, but I thought I’d expand it out beyond the context of church and camp youth ministry.
Are your teenagers at home getting enough sleep? Mine do, but we have the advantage of homeschooling and being able to have a later start for the day. Sleep is vital for kids for several reasons (the four points below are adapted from the YS blog post):
- Health – “Imagine a cure-all that helps prevent cancer, weight gain and heart disease; one that can improve memory and athletic performance and even fend off colds. Now suppose that this panacea is pleasurable. It’s not a daily pill, painful injection or bizarre-tasting tonic.” – Patti Wolter of SELF magazine. It’s SLEEP!
- Absorption – Studies have shown that a lack of sleep severely affects memory and attention span. Do we want them to pay attention when they are at school, church, and when we as parents are talking to them?
- Attitude – Are your teenagers giving you some attitude? It doesn’t help when they’re crabby because they’re sleep deprived.
- Safety – Do you have a teenager who drives? Enough said.
It is recommended that teenagers get 9 1/4 hours of sleep a night (some only need 8 1/2 hours), one study showed that only 15% of teenagers get even 8 1/2 hours.
This can be a challenge with schools having such an early start time, but parents can help by making sure they’re not up past midnight. Perhaps we also need to advocate for a later start time for school as well, but it’s easier to first see what we can do at home to make sure our kids are getting the rest they need.