I was in conversation with several of the young teens at the church tonight during the time I teach them worship skills as a part of our midweek program. We were talking about what it takes to keep them engaged in worship and how easily they became distracted.
In conversation, I began to ask them about the school classes in which they felt the most interest and the ones where they had the least interest. They liked best the classes where they had hands-on work: especially art and science where they actually did things. The ones hardest for them were reading and English. Every one of them spoke of their struggles to stay awake in many of their classes and even complained about teachers who woke them when they fell asleep.
My question to them: how much sleep did they actually get each night? Not one was anywhere close to getting adequate sleep. Most are stumbling through their days on five to seven hours of sleep.
More and more research shows that most all healthy, growing teens need at least nine hours of sleep a night.
These kids are just exhausted and their learning suffers greatly from it. All drink caffeinated drinks of some sort, although all claim to keep them very much limited with only occasional use (which I very much doubt, I admit).
But I am concerned for them. They live in a sleep deficit, which the body processes very much like alcohol intake in terms of limitations in cognitive and reasoning behaviors.
Is there any way to change what I suspect is a huge issue for our teens? We all know how much better infants thrive when they have good sleeping habits and get plenty of rest. Why do we think that teens (and adults!) no longer have that need?