What Every Teenager Wants Their Parent to Know: The Truth About Sleeping In

by Melissa on July 12, 2010

Teenagers invited over for a sleepover on Wish Avenue were often surprised by the unconventional way my ma chose to wake us up.

At about 9 o’clock in the morning, she’d  turn the vacuum on high and place it on the Spanish tile right outside the door to our bedrooom.

When we’d stumble out of bed to turn it off, we’d often see her standing there with a big smile on her face, holding a dustrag. “Good Morning!” she’d sing.

And then, with big eyes, she’d say, “You’ll never guess what I’ve already gotten accomplished today!” She would excitedly proceed to rattle off a list of things: three loads of laundry, grocery shopping for the week, washed the windows inside and out, etc.

She’d punctuate the end with something like, “Don’t you think you would feel so great if you cleaned out the side yard and washed dad’s car??”

It’s become a bit of a family joke now that we’re all adults. It’s a tradition that’s been passed down for generations!

The more we got “accomplished,” the better our character. Sleep was not something that was valued.

This belief was so ingrained, that I was absolutely floored when I recently read  the chapter on the importance of sleep  in Nurture Shock.

Ninety percent of parents think their children are getting enough sleep, when 90% of children in America are not.

Children from the ages of 7-12 should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep per day.  It might sound like a lot, but it’s important for many reasons:

  • A loss in 1 hours sleep can have huge academic consequences: A sleepy fifth grader will perform in class like a third grader!
  • Every study done shows a correlation between sleep and school grades. Kids who sleep more perform better.
  • Students who get less sleep have greater reports of sadness and depression.
  • Tired children can’t remember what they just learned.
  • Children who sleep less than the recommended hours are much more likely to be overweight. Studies show that there is a 300% higher rate of obesity in children who get less than eight hours of sleep a night when compared to kids that get a full ten hours!
  • Tired children are inattentive in class. They have difficulty with impulse control, and are unable to understand that their actions have consequences.  This means they’ll more likely get in trouble for not following directions, or for breaking rules at school.
  • A tired brain can get stuck on a wrong answer and can’t come up with a more creative solution!

During sleep, the brain shifts what it learned that day to storage parts of the brain. So, the more people learn during the day, the more they need to sleep at night! If they don’t have time during sleep for their brain to program and store what they learned, kids won’t remember what they learned.

There are many reasons why kids are getting less sleep today then they were 30 years ago. Kids participate in more activities, parents are working longer hours, and many other reasons contribute to the lack of sleep we are witnessing in children.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your child gets 10-11 hours of sleep per night.

My mom did so many things right when she was raising us. She read a ton on the subject, and also had an superb innate instincts on how to raise kids the right way. If she would’ve known how important sleep was, I can assure you that our friends would definitly have enjoyed the end to a sleepover much more.

Please spread the word. Letting other parents know about the importance of sleep is such an easy way to make our kids happier, healthier, and smarter.

Melissa is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.


Jim July 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Gosh, I tell ya, whenever I wake up early the rest of the day is so productive. Like today I woke up at 8 (as opposed to my normal 1 p.m.) and went shopping, did my laundry, mailed my bills, took a walk, and wrote! Setting schedules is an important thing at any age!

Megan July 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

OMG – mom would open my door after vacuuming and sing out “Come on, Megs, let’s do something PRODUCTIVE today!”
Megan´s last blog post ..Let Them Swing