We need more sleep
Making the transition from holiday rhythms to term-time rhythms can come as a shock to all of us. The leisurely sleep-in is replaced by the frantic scramble to get out the door with all relevant items. The freedom to stay up late into the night or to take a mid-afternoon nap are no more. The days and the evenings are packed with more activity and responsibility and, often, we make extra waking time by robbing our sleeping time.
The reality is that many of us function on less sleep than we should. The SMH recently reported on a report by the National Sleep Foundation in the USA that arose from a meta-study of more than 300 studies. Recognising that the needs of individuals may vary significantly, their recommendation is that adults are getting between 7-9 hours per night, teenagers get 8-10 hours per night and younger students get 9-11 hours per night.
The matter for young people is made even more pointed by some more research reported in Time magazine, which explores the relationship between sleep and academic achievement in students. The conclusion is that there is a significant performance variable associated with sleep deficiencies. In other words, learning is sabotaged by poor sleep.
The challenge of getting good sleep is compounded for teens by a shift in their diurnal rhythms that is associated with adolescence; this makes the implementation of sensible and helpful supports for sleep all the more important. The accepted wisdom with reference to improving the quality and efficacy of sleep is not rocket science. Parents ought to establish a consistent bedtime routine, emphasize the need for a regular sleep schedule, keep electronic screens out of bedrooms, and ensure that children understand the importance of sleep.
From the Christian worldview, ‘rest’ is essentially and properly a human priority. The creation account in Genesis 1 records God resting from his labours. Scholars have noted that the rhythm in this ancient account has the evening (the time of rest) preceding the morning (the time of work); we often frame the two the other way around. The establishment of a Sabbath day – the day of rest – in the Scriptures recognizes the importance of down-time, of which sleep is a part. One of the threats of our ever more connected and busy world is that we begin to devalue rest and, consequently, sleep.
For your own sake, and for the sake of your children, can I urge your household to make the establishment of good sleep patterns a priority as the school year gets underway.
One of the unmistakable markers of summer, along with cricket on the radio, is articles in the mainstream media questioning the value of independent schools. The facts presented in these articles are often provocative and worthy of consideration, but there is one fact that is rarely acknowledged. As pointed out in this article in the SMH, more and more families are opting for non-government schools.
The trend does not just appear in NSW. About one third of Australian parents have looked carefully at the range of educational options, have done their research, weighed the factors that matter most to them and come up with the conclusion that investing in their child’s education at a non-government school is worth it. Furthermore, nearly half the children of secondary school age in Australian cities come from families who have weighed up the pros and cons of state school education and decided on a non-government school for their children.
This fact ought not be glossed over by those who have an agenda in diminishing the non-government education sector. The genuine belief that non-government education is worth it is demonstrated by the parents of more than 500 000 students each year at significant financial cost. I suspect that those who disparage independent education may not have spent much time listening to those who esteem it.