Lisa Maltman from The Sleep Connection came to our school recently to share the Sleep for Better Health, Resilience and Performance message with Years 10 and 11.

The reason we run the program is that around 70% of teenagers experience sleep deprivation, which impacts on their motivation, learning, mental and physical health.

The aim of this article is to explore key reasons your daughters might not be getting the sleep they need, along with tips for improving their sleep, in order to better support them in the term ahead.

Why sleep is important at this time:

Learning and academic performance: Good quality sleep is essential for both pre and post learning. Poor sleep decreases motivation, concentration and memory consolidation.

Mental health and resilience: Poor sleep negatively impacts relationships, overall mood and can be associated with depression, anxiety, negative body image and low self-esteem.

Behaviour and decision making: Poor sleep impacts decision making capacity, has a negative effect on behaviour and increases risk of accidents.

Physical Health: Poor sleep affects children’s physical growth, brain development and plays a key role in weight gain

Additionally sleep plays a vital role in boosting our immune function and help us deal with stress. Declines in the quality and/or quantity of sleep can affect our immunity, leaving us more susceptible to illnesses including viruses.

Hours of sleep:

For your reference most experts recommend 8-10 hrs/ night for our year 7-12 students, for optimal learning and mental health. Many of our students fall well below this.

Top reasons for not getting sufficient sleep:

During the program the top 4 reasons most students give for not getting the sleep they need are:

  1. Technology/ FOMO (social media, gaming, Netflix, YouTube)
  2. Homework/ study
  3. Time management/ procrastination
  4. Stress

Other frequent comments include: “too many commitments; insomnia; anxiety; body clock; over thinking; caffeine; lack of consistency; poor habits and self-control”.

Additionally in our teenagers we must not forget the:

  • Changes in their Circadian Rhythm (Body Clock): The hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep, is secreted later during puberty than in children and adults. This delay temporarily resets their circadian rhythm (which is like an internal biological clock). This means that your teen will want to go to bed later at night and get up later in the morning.

For others reasons your daughters may not be getting the sleep they need, please visit:

Sleep Thieves and Common Sleep Problems

Motivations for Improving Sleep:

Key to improving sleep, is understanding the impact sleep has and having a motivation to improve. For your interest the top 5 motivations many students give, in varying order, were to improve their:

  • Concentration, mood, energy, academic performance, sports performance.

Other frequent comments include: “improved mental health; better memory; overall performance; decrease stress levels; relationships with family and friends; reduce headaches; improved overall motivation; health and skin”.

Key tips for improving sleep:

  • Have a conversation around sleep and if they feel they get enough sleep.
  • Discuss the impact sleep may be having on their learning, stress levels and physical and mental health
  • Body Clock: If they haven’t already, assist them to get their body clocks back into school mode ASAP, via 15-30min increments. Reduced technology use at night, along with early morning sun and exercise in the morning will help!
  • Motivation: Discuss and then focus on their motivations for improving their sleep.
  • What’s stopping them getting the sleep the need: Together, focus on 1-2 improvements they could make, under the key areas stopping them sleep, mentioned above

    For example:

  • Start to prioritise sleep and have a bedtime to aim for
  • Have a one hour break between study/use of electronics and sleep
  • Bedroom an electronics free zone at night, including not relying on mobiles as an alarm clock
  • Constantly assist your daughters to review their time management
  • Consistent bedtime during week and on weekends
  • Implement a wind down period/ stress reduction techniques
  • Seek help if you are concerned about the sleep health of your daughter or any family member

Sleep impacts all areas of our lives. For further information and to listen to a student interview, of how improving her sleep positively impacted her academic performance, mood and relationships, please visit: The Sleep Connection