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August 30th, 2017

Last week we heard from Madonna King, bestselling author of Being 14. Madonna spoke both to our Year 8 students and our wider community about many issues confronting 14-year-old girls today. One of these is an overwhelming lack of sleep, and how sleep relates to learning.  Madonna explained that seven in every ten 14-year-old girls get insufficient sleep, with most of them recording far fewer than eight hours each night.  The recommended amount of sleep for this age group is a minimum of nine hours per night.

There are many reasons for sleep deprivation in adolescents. From taking on an excessive number of co-curricular activities both inside and outside of school, through to the excessive use of social media, the list is long and varied for each girl. Current research indicates the detrimental impact that sleep deprivation has on learning. When students are at school and learning effectively, information is being stored in their short-term memory. That learning only moves its way into their long-term memory if their day is followed by a good night’s sleep for two consecutive nights. Many researchers are now demonstrating that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep consolidates learning. Just one night’s missed sleep can impact on long term memory.

Arianna Huffington, former Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post, and author of Thrive and The Sleep Revolution also agrees we are in the middle of a sleep deprivation crisis. She explains that sleep is not empty time, it is just as important as the time we are awake. While we sleep, intense neurological activity is occurring, including memory consolidation, brain and neurochemical cleansing, and cognitive maintenance. The right amount of sleep only serves to enhance the quality of time we spend with our eyes open.