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TEENS AND SLEEP

For generations, students have complained about homework. Be honest. You may have had a few grumbles in high school. It turns out teens have a problem with it.

The Better Sleep Council found that high school students are having a negative relationship with homework. This is despite the fact that there is some evidence that schoolwork done outside of the classroom can lead to academic success.

Stress is the leading cause

A recent study by the Better Sleep Council found that three-fourths (75%) of teens said that test scores and grades caused stress. This was the most frequently cited stressor. It was second in stress triggers at 74%, just slightly behind the scholastic performance. Surprisingly, academic stress is more common than peer pressure (36%), or bullying (15%).

While adults may have good intentions and create campaigns to promote self-esteem and fight to cyberbully, teenagers report that they have the most difficulty dealing with an activity that is widely sanctioned in their own homes every night. This is a surprising irony.

Homework overload

Students are encouraged to complete after-school assignments. This is a way to improve academic achievement, self-discipline, and problem-solving skills. As everyone would agree, all good things are great. However, homework is too much of an excellent thing.

The National Education Association recommends that each grade level has 10 minutes of homework. The first graders should have 10 minutes of homework every night, sixth-graders an hour, and high school seniors two hours. Students experience diminishing returns and increased stress levels beyond that.

Our research shows that more than one-third of students (39%) spend at least three hours per night on homework. This means that students could be suffering from 50% more stress than the NEA recommends, with very little or no academic benefits. With only 24 hours each day, what happens when homework, school, and other activities all compete for your attention?

The dangers associated with pulling an all-nighter

Teens often sacrifice sleep to make it all happen. Only 21% of the students surveyed said they got the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep for teens by the Centers for Disease Control. Alarmingly, 12% of students get less than 4 hours of sleep on a typical school night.

Survey Respondent: “I feel lazy if I go to bed before 11:30 a.m.

Numerous reports have described the effects of a lack of sleep. These include increased depression, weight gain, and a higher incidence of auto accidents.

Academics are a matter of sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to less focus and comprehension. Many students then spend their nights trying to catch up on home studies. This vicious cycle can lead to another night of sleepless nights.

Better sleep, better grades

Sleep Medicine Reviews studies show that students who have higher grades sleep more and get to bed earlier on school nights. Students who sleep less often experience a decrease in academic performance.

It is clear that student learning ability and academic performance are directly related to how much sleep they get.

Balance school and sleep

A few teachers who are aware of the importance of sleep have created “no homework” policies to aid teens. Some schools have established later start times for high school. Harvard University even has a “Sleep 101” class that is mandatory to raise awareness about sleep and correct bad sleep habits.

Although educator policies are out of your control, you have the power to influence what happens at home. These are some practical ways to reinforce the importance of sleep.

  • Your teen can help you plan your day so that they have enough time (8-10 hours) to sleep every night.
  • Only use the bedroom for sleeping. Designate a separate space in the bedroom for homework. Move the TV and gaming console from their bedroom.
  • Make sure to upgrade your sleeping surface. Mattresses that have been handed down can lead to restless nights.
  • Don’t cause their stress. Remind them that they are worthy of your admiration as long as you do your best.
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