Why sleep is kids’ most important homework

I never thought I’d be recommending my Perfect Sleep Protocol for children. But with all of the technology, emphasis on success, and other pressures aimed at kids these days, it looks like I may have to include a lesson for the little folks, too. Because all of this “life clutter” is taking a serious toll on their sleep.

And research shows kids who don’t get enough sleep face a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, attention problems, behavioral issues, and academic failure.

So the fact that this problem is exceedingly common nowadays should alarm everyone.

And “exceedingly common” is an understatement — at least, according to a new study by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS).

On average, 57.8 percent of middle school students weren’t getting enough sleep. These estimates ranged anywhere from 50.2 percent in New Mexico to 64.7 percent in Kentucky.

By high school, that statistic jumps to a whopping 72.7 percent of kids not getting enough sleep. (This sample showed that girls in particular weren’t sleeping enough.)

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises nine to 12 hours of sleep daily for kids aged six through 12. And eight to 10 hours of sleep for teens aged 13 to 18. Anything less than that, and your child is officially sleep deprived.

And yet, as a country, we are failing in our efforts to address this health crisis. (And yes, it is a bona fide health crisis.) In fact, things are getting worse. Statistics show that the number of well-rested high school students dropped from 30.9 percent to 27.3 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Part of that could be because parents just don’t realize that good sleep habits are as important as homework. More important, really.

A consistent schedule is key here — regular, parent-set bedtimes on both school days and weekends are essential. So is limiting light exposure at least an hour before bedespecially light from technology, like phones and tablets. Enforce an hour of “no screen time” and have them pick up a book, color, or do a puzzle instead (this will also help kids de-stress, thus decreasing cortisol levels — another major health benefit).

Sleep struggles are bad enough among American adults. This is not the kind of legacy we want to be forcing onto the next generation. The biggest favor you could ever do for your kids is to encourage healthy behaviors now… it’ll set the stage for their health habits later in life.

I suggest checking out some of the all-natural recommendations for quality sleep in my online learning tool, my Perfect Sleep Protocol. The strategies and knowledge can be used to improve both your health and that of your child.