Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jackie. Jackie Wonders, “Do kids need more sleep than adults?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jackie!
Whether you're reading a fascinating book, playing your favorite video game, or watching a funny television show, there are three words you probably dread hearing in the evening: time for bed! Why does bedtime always have to arrive to break up whatever fun you're having?
Most children will plead for extra time. Some may even try to argue with logic. After all, aren't adults supposed to set an example for children? If adults stay up later, shouldn't children be allowed to stay up later, too?
Unfortunately for children everywhere, that logic simply doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. In fact, science is squarely on the side of adults. No matter how unfair it seems, children simply need more sleep than adults.
Even though sleeping seems like the most boring and unproductive thing you could be doing, it's actually very important to your physical and mental health. Between school, homework, sports, activities, and playtime, you expend a lot of energy in a typical day. Sleep gives your body the daily break it needs.
In addition to recharging your physical batteries, sleep helps your brain function at its best, too. Scientists believe that the brain remains active during certain periods of sleep, sorting through and storing information from the day. It may also use sleep time to replace needed chemicals.
So how much sleep do you need? The optimal amount of sleep varies from one person to the next. As a general rule, though, most health professionals recommend that younger children get somewhere between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. Teenagers usually need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep nightly.
This is obviously more than the 7 to 9 hours most adults sleep each night. Why do kids need that extra sleep? Children are still in the process of growing — both physically and mentally — and that extra sleep is what their bodies need to grow and mature in a healthy way. Once you've stopped growing, you don't need as much sleep, which explains why people tend to need less sleep as they get older.
Despite the fact that sleep is very important to our health, many of us continually try to cheat our bodies out of the sleep we so desperately need. We're surrounded by so many things that demand our attention, as well as all sorts of opportunities for fun, that we often choose other activities over sleep.
Doing so on a regular basis, though, can lead to sleep deprivation, which can have many different negative effects. In addition to feeling tired from physical exhaustion, you can also feel psychologically tired when you don't get enough sleep. This can lead to crankiness and an inability to focus and think clearly.
Being overly tired can make you more argumentative. It can also make relatively-easy things seem nearly impossible. Playing an instrument or a sport can also be much more challenging when you're tired.
Getting too little sleep on a regular basis can have even more dire repercussions, especially when you're young. Too little sleep can lead to not growing like you should. Lack of sleep can also compromise your immune system, making it easier to get sick.