Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chronic Sleep Deprivation, I'm Guilty, Too

Years ago, when I was doing my teachers license in David Yellin Teachers College, Jerusalem, I made a presentation to the class about the high percentage of kids suffering ADD/HD, all sorts of attention/concentration difficulties.  As a primary, born-with, biological, neurological problem, according to the experts it's only 3-5%, but as all of us in my course filled with working teachers missing a license knew, the proportion of kids in our classrooms was more like one to two thirds, 33-66%.  So, there had to be other reasons besides what G-d gave the kids.

By chance I found an article that described the ramifications of insufficient sleep, and they were identical to those of ADD/HD in terms of attention, memory, impulsivity, logic etc problems.  When I was a kid, there was nothing to do late at night.  Stores were closed, TV was off and there weren't DVD's nor VCR's in existence.  So we all, including adults, got to bed much earlier.

Nowadays, actually the past few dozen years (or decades,) you'll see parents schlepping their kids to the supermarket or mall 10pm or later.  TV shows are broadcast round the clock, and you can choose whatever, whenever you want to watch on the small screen or the computer.

The whole world, children and adults, are sleep deprived!

I found an article in the International Herald Tribune that told me that my six hours of sleep (on a good night) aren't enough.
Not surprisingly, those who had eight hours of sleep hardly had any attention lapses and no cognitive declines over the 14 days of the study. What was interesting was that those in the four- and six-hour groups had P.V.T. results that declined steadily with almost each passing day. Though the four-hour subjects performed far worse, the six-hour group also consistently fell off-task. By the sixth day, 25 percent of the six-hour group was falling asleep at the computer. And at the end of the study, they were lapsing fives times as much as they did the first day.

The six-hour subjects fared no better — steadily declining over the two weeks — on a test of working memory in which they had to remember numbers and symbols and substitute one for the other. The same was true for an addition-subtraction task that measures speed and accuracy. All told, by the end of two weeks, the six-hour sleepers were as impaired as those who, in another Dinges study, had been sleep-deprived for 24 hours straight — the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk.
Now, how am I going to add two more hours of sleep to my day?  My husband does it with napping, but I'm not a napper.  It's very rare for me to sleep during the day.  I guess that I'll just have to force myself to go to bed earlier whenever possible and get up later, like today, when I really don't need that extra morning time awake.

And if you've been told that your kids are in need of medication for attention/concentration disabililities, try two hours more of sleep first.  You may have to work with your entire community to make sure they're not missing out on activities, but it's worth it!


Hadassa said...

and mo'adim l'simha!
I used to stay up late reading under my blanket by the light of a flashlight. Sending me to bed on time did not ensure that I would even try to go to sleep.
Concerning your last paragraph, I am appalled at the number of parents who think that ending an activity for 7th-8th graders after 8:30 - not to mention 10:00 - is acceptable.

Batya said...

Hadassa, I was always the obnoxious parent who refused to pass the message about activities for little kids starting at 8 or 9pm! Parents must take a stand against it.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely guilty too!

Did you find an Omer reminder?
My DH gets one from CHabad. Last night's message (rec'd after Shabbat US time!):
Nissan 19, 5771 · April 23, 2011
5th Day of the Omer

Tonight, Saturday night, April 23, 2011, we count five days of the Omer.
For detailed instructions on how to count the Omer, blessing text, omer calendar, and more information, please click here
CHag sameach,
Ruth, friend of Sharon Brem z"l

Batya said...

Ruth, thanks, I'm getting a bunch of email reminders and set up my phone to ring after 8pm.

I have no doubt that if I could get myself to bed earlier, I'd function more efficiently and wouldn't miss the time I spend sleeping.