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Spot on Science: Catching Zzz's

Making sleep a priority is not just making a responsible decision, but also helps us do well in school and life. So is eight hours enough downtime? What if I’m a night owl? Margaret interviews a sleep specialist to get some answers and learn the importance of getting a good night’s rest.

This video is funded by Ohio's Broadcast Educational Media Commission.

Class Discussion Questions:

1) Develop a plan that will allow you to get more sleep.

2) Compare how you feel when you are well rested and not well rested.

3) Create a poster encouraging your classmates to get more sleep.

Educator Resources:

Social/Emotional Learning topics are often difficult to surface in the classroom. When discussing topics of this nature, we recommend that you consider the needs of your community, seek any needed support from reputable organizations or colleagues, such as a guidance counselor or school psychologist. In order to support you, we have found the following resources to be of interest on the topic of sleep:

Read the Script:

[Margaret] I am not a morning person. I will hit that snooze button over and over again until I absolutely have to get out of bed. Staying up late and waking up late are two of my bad habits that I want to break. So I thought maybe knowing the science behind why sleep is important, could help motivate me to catch some more Zs. I called up Dr. Sally Ibrahim, she's a sleep specialist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. I started by asking her to tell me a little bit about her work. Take a look.

[Sally] I'm a sleep doctor, I'm a medical doctor, so I see patients in clinic and I also read sleep studies. When people go to spend a night in the lab, we get some data and we understand what their sleep disturbances are. So I see patients with sleep disorders of all kinds, from insomnia, meaning you can't sleep, to hypersomnia, too much sleep, and everything in between that relates to sleep.

[Margaret] And so, why is sleep so important?

[Sally] Sleep is important for all the body functions. Namely in students' learning, we do a lot of active learning when we're sleeping and the more sufficient sleep we get, the better and more likely we're gonna retain our knowledge the next day. And so that's why a lot of teachers will say get a good night's sleep because we know that memory consolidation happens in sleep. There's also a bunch of other things that happen in sleep. For example, we can regulate our sugar control, regulate our heart health and so many other things that are healthy for us to thrive.

[Margaret] So if I stay up really late cramming for a test I might not remember what I've been studying if I don't get enough sleep?

[Sally] That's a great question. You will retain some, you will retain more, probably, if you get a good night's sleep 'cause that memory consolidation occurs during sleep. Now, some people will still do just fine, but we know that you're probably studying more than just on that night and so every single night counts leading up to that, so that you can retain that knowledge.

[Margaret] Ah, okay, and so how much sleep should someone who is eight to 12 years old get?

[Sally] Great question. So preadolescents, you need anything from nine to 12 hours and in teenagers you need eight to 10 hours. And so, those are minimal numbers the minimum number for teenagers, eight hours and the minimum number for preadolescent is nine hours.

[Margaret] What are some tips that you have for when I'm getting ready to go to bed, to make sure that I get a good night's rest?

[Sally] The tips are making a regular bedtime, making a regular wake time that's between one or two hours of your typical weekday wake time. Some students, my daughter included, it was in sixth grade, thinks that it's okay just to get all your sleep on the weekends. But the weekends only a couple of days so we have that full five days to really work with. We want to avoid caffeine and that could look like a lot of things, chocolate being one, close to bedtime and with dinner. And we want to reduce our stress levels and make some some progress towards bedtime when it's time for bedtime.

[Margaret] And you said that your daughter had some tips about electronics at night?

[Sally] It may be hard to get away from electronics and that's what she mentioned to me. She said, you know kids are gonna be on their electronics, you have to tell them what to do and what not to do. And she's actually right scientifically, interestingly. So the science is that some electronics may not be so bad. It depends on what we're doing on it. So things that are very engaging, when our mind is really active, will be bad for us. Some of the things that may be more helpful are things like listening to music that's soothing, relaxing, not so alerting, things that just calm us, there could be a nice easy podcast to listen to, for example, something to put our mind in a relaxed position.

[Margaret] So you gotta be really smart about what you're doing at night so that when you wake up you'll be smarter.

[Sally] Choose wisely, that's right.