Fall Break is almost here and thank goodness. Its been over two months since we started school and although it has been a great start, and while we have just completed an inspiring set of Intersessions, I know everyone is beyond ready for a week of rest and relaxation. My words of wisdom to all — go for it! Sleep in. Indulge in your passions. Enjoy some hard core lounging around. It is well earned.
But I also want to put a plug in for thinking about this week as committing to two daily habits that research is indicating will do a world of good for you on so many fronts (and are particularly important for the young adolescent): sleeping and exercise.
Time Magazine just did a cover story on how the brain research is proving the importance of sleep http://time.com/3326565/the-power-of-sleep/. It turns out that sleep is not just the absence of being awake, instead our brain is doing a daily routine of cleansing, recalibrating, and integrating. So much so that Time calls sleep “more powerful than any drug in its ability to restore and rejuvenate the human brain and body.” Unfortunately, teenagers often prefer late night social media or screen time to going to bed early and they are being deprived of important biochemical processes. The recommended number of hours of sleep for teenagers is 9-10 hours a night! Fall break could be a time to try to get back on the sleep bandwagon.
Then there is exercise. The Atlantic Monthly just published an article entitled “Exercise is ADHD Medication” in which it reviews medical research that analyzes the impact of exercise on academic achievement (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-seems-to-be-beneficial-to-children/380844/). For example, in one study a 12-week exercise program improved math and reading test scores in all kids, but especially in those with signs of ADHD. Not that improved math and reading scores are the only reason to make sure that our young people are exercising — there obviously are numerous benefits — health, emotional, even social – reasons for being active. But knowing that daily activity impacts a students’ academics is one more reason to get moving.
So in addition to taking it easy this upcoming week, we encourage the PFFS community to commit (or recommit) to a regime that includes sleep and exercise. See you in a week, rested and ready to go!