Perhaps I'm just being bitchy... I'm open to that. Seriously, I am. But, I don't think it's me (this time).
My daughter wants to play soccer this season and I'm holding out. I won't commit until they can tell me when the damn practices are going to be. This isn't about finding ways to balance her sports with my coaching business, conflict with other sports, or even going to church.
This is about sleep.
Frankly, I don't trust that these people have my child's best interest at heart... at least regarding sleep. Many of the girls who will be in this team are just wrapping up a season of indoor soccer, which means that it's the same parents, leadership, etc., and I have a major problem with their game schedule. For example, I understand that tonight there are games at 7:30 and 8:30 pm. Thirty minute games at a venue that is thirty-minutes from home... at BEST, we are looking at 6th and 7th grade kids getting in bed at 10:00 pm. By at best, mean that they walk out the door immediately following the game, drive directly home, brush teeth, climb in bed and go directly to sleep.
I don't know about you but there's almost always some kind of wrench waiting to be thrown into a plan like that at my place - like a need for food after playing two soccer games. Or how about a shower? Also, how easy is it to fall asleep within an hour of having a crazy good time, running your ass off with all of your friends. Those things are only part of the problem. These children have to be in their desks, alert, and ready to learn at 7:25 am. Mine get up at 6:00 am, before the sun even comes up, and I know many others who wake even earlier because of long bus rides.
Are you following me? I'm grown and because I get up at 6:00 am, I strive to go to sleep at 10:00 pm. If I'm asleep by 11:00, I'm pretty solid for the next day. I don't always get it, but that's what I strive for and more than any other time in my life... I feel good. I have enough energy to function well, without caffeine or nicotine or loads of sugar to keep my energy up, for the entire day. Again... I am grown. I have these big girl pants that help me remember what's on the line when I want to stay up and play. And when I choose to do that, these same big girl pants remind me that I still have to be functional. Because I'm grown, I have the tools to do that.
My daughter is ELEVEN years old and sleep experts says she should still be getting ten to eleven hours of sleep each night. At THIRTEEN, my son still needs nine to ten hours a night. Do the math people, it isn't enough! My kids go upstairs at 8:00 pm to get ready for sleep and read. Lights are out at 9:00 pm. Even my kids, with my seemingly crazy obsession with sleep, are only getting nine.
I can see it in them, especially when soccer season starts up. They are dragging ass in the morning. My son occasionally tells me about falling asleep in class. Sleep is a truly critical part of our body's cycle and many, many people (young and old) in this country are SUFFERING because of the effects of sleep deprivation. I am a Life Coach and I can tell you that sleep deprivation is a huge problem for 90% of clients when when we first start working together. Don't you watch the news, we are an obese, sleep-deprived nation. This is part of our national crisis. And NO, I'm not being dramatic. This is real.
I found this fabulous article about adolescents and sleep deprivation, and have summarized some of the findings here. It is my intention to shock you into some sort of concerned state.
Sleepy people screw stuff up - Traffic accident research has shown over and over again that sleepy people are more prone to accidents. They wreck cars, which my kids don't drive yet, but they do drive bikes, skateboards, and FEET and they need to be functioning at the top of their game to keep from darting out in front of a car to get their soccer ball. They are mature enough to operate equipment in my house, like the stove and oven... do I want them doing that while stoned from their soccer exhaustion? It makes since that sleepy kids would be more likely to be injured around the house - bumping their heads or loosing their footing on the stairs - and when playing sports because that's the meaning of more accident prone. Their bodies are not equipped to react well to what's going on.
Sleepy people look stupid - Sleep deprivation affects their performance in school. I'm not going to water this down for you. THINK about the impact of this. Your kid is sleepy, so her grades slip. She tries harder, and gets more sleepy, so the grades slip more. The implications on her self-esteem alone are TOXIC and the impact will be life-long. She will never be able to make sense of the fact that she was too sleepy to perform well in school... she's simply going to assume she's stupid. This is huge, people. Wake up.
Sleepy people are more moody - Let me just review the ways that less sleep affects one's mood: More of the "negative" emotions (anger, sadness, and fear), more depression, more difficulty controlling emotional or behavioral problems, inability to focus, increased impulsivity, and problems staying still or completing tasks, (resembling the symptoms associated with ADHD... and dramatically increasing the symptoms in those who actually have ADHD, by the way), more misbehavior and aggressiveness. Are these things you want amplified at your house? No thanks, we're good here!
Sleepy people get stoned - Now, I simplified the points above but this one you're going to get word for word from the researchers... "Teens who get less sleep than they need also have a higher likelihood of drug use (Carskadon, 1990). This is not limited to stimulants, alcohol use is also more prevalent among teens who report getting less sleep than their peers. Alcohol can facilitate "unrestful" sleep; sleep which has an inhibited REM phase and therefore leaves users exceptionally tired even after a night of sleeping. Stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine over long periods of time not only create a dependency on the substance in order to but can also significantly affect the quality of sleep. Caffeine is in fact a psychoactive drug, though we rarely realize it, and the rate at which teens are becoming dependent on caffeine during their days is an alarming indication of underlying sleep problems." This is HUGE. The reason that we are all doing all of this stuff for and with our children is so they will not turn to this crap... sleep HAS to be a priority.
I want my kids to be safe and make good choices. I want them be smart and perform well in school. I want them to feel happy and peaceful, to behave, and focus on the things that matter in life. I don't want them to get drink, smoke, do drugs, or become dependent on caffeine. I think it's safe to assume we all want the same thing... so let them freaking sleep.
If we care about these kids, which we all claim to do when we organize extracurricular activities, then we MUST stop setting them up to fail. This isn't a one time thing, this is their soccer schedule for three months! Yes, my daughter is going to be pissed off if I don't let her play, if the practices end at 8:00 pm or later. What I want to know is... why aren't everyone else's parents pissed off? Wake up!
The article I referenced is, "Sleep Deprivation and Adolescents: What Are the Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation and What Are the Repercussions of Sleep-Deprivation in Adolescents?" by Damon Stea. I found it here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/444311/sleep_deprivation_and_adolescents.html?cat=5