The Importance of Sleep:

The average kid has a busy day. There’s school, taking care of your pets, running around with friends, going to extra-curricular activities, and doing your homework. By the end of the day, your body needs a break. So even though you feel like you want to watch the next episode, read the next chapter, reach the next level, or stay chatting to your friends, it’s no surprise your parents are calling out: “OFF TO BED!”

Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day. Everything that’s alive needs sleep to survive. Even your dog or cat curls up for naps. Some animals spend as many as 20 hours a day sleeping! Animals sleep for the same reason you do — to give your body a tiny vacation.

Your body and your brain need sleep. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you’re sleeping, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze. Unfortunately, most Kiwi Kids probably aren’t getting enough sleep, as experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. However, sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others.

When your body doesn’t have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. You might have a hard time following directions, or you might have an argument with a friend over something really stupid. A school assignment that’s normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favourite sport or instrument.

It seems weird, but an extra hours sleep that night could have solved the problem before it even existed.

One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don’t, you may not grow as well. That’s right, researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your immune system — which keeps you from getting sick. Mother Nature protected us when we were babies, by making sure we spent about 50 percent of our time in a deep sleep essential for adequate growth. We may look peaceful when we are sleeping, but really our brains are busy all night long. However, as we grow older there can be too many distractions around us to get this ‘deep sleep.’

So I guess that’s why our parents are constantly nagging us to get to bed! All this time I thought they wanted some peace and quiet, but it looks like there is a lot more to it than that. Sleep helps us to be happy and healthy – both now and in the future.

Apparently, adults want to go to bed early and sleep in all the time? Maybe we should enjoy these long-nights-sleep while we can!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How can not getting enough sleep affect your behaviour at school? How can getting lots of sleep help you?
  2. Why do we not sleep for as long as other animals?
  3. What is our brain doing while it is dreaming?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Do you have trouble sleeping? What are some good ways to try and combat this?
  2. Write down how many hours of sleep you are getting each night for a week. Do you need to get more sleep? Try and make sure by the end of the week you are getting at least 10 hours per night.
  3. Go take a nap!

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