School performance can be improved with a good night’s sleep

Sleep and Student Health

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Sleep is a contributing factor to overall student health, and a lack of sleep is likely to cause behavior and attention problems that can affect how children learn in school.

WMBF News spoke with students of all ages about how much sleep they’re getting and what’s keeping them from shut eye.

High school sophomore Patrick Williams said he gets about seven to eight hours, sometimes six. He said personal stress build up can keep him up and overthinking about the next schoolwork day and if he got everything completed.

Certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of Rest is Best, Brittany Levine, explained what the body does when sleeping.

“The brain is clearing out toxins within the brain while we are sleeping,” Levine said. “So a lot of the problems we may have come from not getting enough sleep.”

Not only can an adequate amount of sleep help the immune system, it can also help with focus, critical for online learning.

“You aren’t so dazed off and not being able to concentrate or hone in on one task at hand,” Levine said.

As students are falling asleep, blue lights from phones or computers can keep them up longer because it disrupts the sleep hormone melatonin.

For children especially, Levin said they need a good night’s sleep for growth.

“The growth hormone is actually dormant while we are awake and it is released while we are sleeping,” she said.

Right now, Horry County Schools start time depends on the grade, with elementary schools starting around 7:30 a.m., middle schools around 8:15 a.m. and high school around 8:20 a.m.

A school district in Washington state used to start earlier but pushed start times back about 55 minutes a few years ago. The study showed students received more sleep and even an improved academic performance.

Williams said he believes this would help students with productivity.

“Most students, especially my age and in my grade, they have a lot of jobs which keeps them pretty late at home so an extra hour would make them more energized and probably make them dread school a lot less,” Williams said.

Levine said teens experience a phase delay in sleep, so a push back could help the age group get the sleep they need.

”That’s where an onset of sleep, the feeling of sleepiness, is shifting back sometimes two hours so they are not really ready for bed until 11 p.m. because of this change in hormones and puberty they are going through,” she said. “So with that change and push back in bedtime and starting school too early, it’s causing them to not get enough sleep. About 60 to 70 percent of adolescents are not getting enough sleep.”

Students and Levine agree a schedule can help achieve a good night’s rest.

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