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What Your Teen and You Really Need: Sleep


What improves alertness, memory, concentration, creativity, communication, mood, weight, immunity, and reaction time?  No, it’s not some magic pill, some newly discovered herb, or some powerful vitamin combination.  It is, quite simply, sleep.


Apparently most people in North America do not get enough sleep to function optimally, and high school students are among the more seriously sleep-deprived groups. Therefore they suffer from reduced memory, reduced concentration, reduced learning ability, reduced creativity, worse moods, lowered immunity, and so much more…. And all of these things are the opposite of what we are working for!


So, here we home schooling moms are, putting all sorts of effort into our children’s futures, and their success could be minimized for lack of a simple, old-fashioned bedtime! 


How would we know if they, or we, are sleep deprived?  There are many criteria, but if anyone regularly falls asleep within 5 minutes of getting into bed, needs an alarm clock (and a snooze button) to get up, feels drowsy while driving, feels mentally-slow and stressed out a lot of the time, or loves to nap and sleep in, he most likely is not getting all the sleep his body needs.   


In a culture that regards sleep almost as a waste of time, it is common to hear about ways to reduce the amount of sleeping we do in order to finish our huge to-do lists.  On the other hand, according to Power Sleep  by James Maasthose who learn to regard sleep as an investment in their awake time, and learn how to improve their quality of sleep are often astonished by how  alert they feel after 4-6 weeks of adequate sleep.  “Their increased efficiency gives them enough hours in the day to work, and to play.  They become better spouses, better parents, and better in their careers.  They become more energetic, healthier, more successful, and happier with their lives.”  (page xviii)


In terms of Proverbs, they no longer are like the sluggard:  craving sleep, lethargic, foolish, and unmotivated to work.  Rather, they are like the person mentioned in Ecclesiastes 10:10 who sharpens his dull axe and can work effectively.


After years of listening to the ‘cut down on your sleep’ gurus, I have learned to value sleep.  Adequate sleep does give more energy, and, in the long run, it allows me to do my work more effectively and more happily.  It is true that the hours I sleep are an investment in the rest of my life.


So I will be teaching my teens about sleep, after ensuring that they get enough of it.  I will continue to make sleep a priority in my own life as well because I, too, want to be “wide awake, creative, and dynamic all day long” (p 66). 


When sleep seems like a waste of time, I will remember Ps 127: 2

“In vain you rise early and stay up late,

Toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.” 


When I am worried, I hope to be able to say with the psalmist, David,

“I will lie down and sleep in peace,

for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”(Ps 4:8)


For those who are unable to sleep, check out the book mentioned above; it has a list of sleep strategies and a discussion of sleep disorders.  I could list some of the sleep rules and strategies in another post if anyone is interested. 


See you on Tuesday for another Tea Time with Annie Kate, and maybe earlier if I sleep enough to get all my other work done! 



  1. solidrock says:

    Oh to get enough sleep! What a great post and so true. I have been studying the links between sleep deprivation and cancer. It is interesting.

    I was out of cheese cloth and up to my eyes in yoghurt so I discovered the coffee filter and fine strainer method. Works! I drink the whey too. Its great with a touch of honey, added to tea, or in a smoothie. The yoghurt cheese is such a healthy subsitiute for sourcream and creamy salad dressings.

  2. OurLittleSchoolRoom says:

    You're very welcome! I only found out about it a few months ago. I was very frustrated in the kitchen. This is helping a lot.



    Edited by OurLittleSchoolRoom on Jun. 4, 2009 at 7:21 AM

  3. LarabaK says:

    I've always been an early to bedtime woman and except when I've had a newborn or am in the end stages of pregnancy, I think I usually do get enough. And you are right, it makes such a difference! I have heard too that teens need a lot and rarely get it. I hope when we get to that stage that I can accommodate their need for sleep with all that they, and we, feel must be done.


  4. proverbsmama says:

    Oh wow! You made me sleepy! LOL! I have to get up by 5:00 every morning for work. Plus, a lot of the time, I start waking up by 4:00 or 4:30. I do try to go to bed by 9:00 each night, but it's still daylight, and there are kids outside playing, so sometimes the noise makes it hard to get to sleep right away.

    I have noticed dd is sleeping more. While we are still doing school during the summer months (3 classes, about 2 or 2-1/2 hours a day), I am letting her sleep in as long as she likes on the days when I am working. I know her body is going through huge changes, so the sleep is very good for her.

  5. Canadagirl says:

    I would LOVE for you to share the sleep rules you mentioned. I feel like I had a REAL lightbulb moment. I need to really make sure we all get MORE sleep. I am sure our symtoms are from not enough sleep.

    Thank you for this post and praying sweet dreams for you tonight. [0=

    Blessings in Him<><


  6. AnnieKate says:

    OK, I'll post the best sleep rules from the book. I'm so glad that you think this may help your family!

    Blessings and hugs to you, too.

    Annie Kate

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'm amazed at how much sleep my 12-year-old needs. This is the child that did not sleep through the night until she was 7, was up at the crack of dawn and going all day long. She's often tired now, a reminder that she needs even more sleep. My younger has always been a great sleeper, fortunately. Our pediatrician told us as homeschoolers, I need to let them sleep in as long as they'd like.

    As for myself, I need to do better. I'm a night owl for sure, but don't get to sleep in like I want/need. I'm working on getting to bed earlier so I get enough shut eye.



    P.S. Welcome to the Crew!

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