Homeschooling and Sleep Deprivation- 8 Things You Should Know

Homeschooling and Sleep Deprivation- 8 Things You Should Know

Homeschooling and Sleep Deprivation- 8 Things You Should Know

We’ve all been there: Up till all hours, working on the next day’s homeschooling stuff. (I’m doing that right now, actually…)

But this is REALLY a bad idea. Sleep deprivation doesn’t improve homeschool quality!

Up to 1/3 of Americans may be running on chronic sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. The deprivation is often the result of being on the computer or doing chores late into the night (or lesson plans), according to this recent article, Short Sleep Duration Among Workers. 

I know that in my practice as a counselor, we are frequently reminded to work with clients on sleep hygiene. It has been proven that poor sleep has a bad effect on mood management.

Introduction to Psychology from a Christian Perspective
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Here are 8 things you need to know about sleep deprivation:

Problems with chronic (more than 3 days) loss of sleep:

1. Frontal lobe neurons deteriorate (that’s the lobe that makes decisions and does critical thinking)

2. Insulin destabilization (become prone to blood sugar and related mood swings)

3. Other hormones destabilize

4. Elevated cortisol levels (leads to anxiety, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, metabolism problems, immune system lowered)

5. Brain’s memory center become inefficient

6. Cryptochromes interrupted (these are flavoproteins that are found in our eyes and skin that affect our biorhythms. They tell our bodies to stop making daytime serotonin- the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter and to start making melatonin- the sleep-inducing hormone). THEY ONLY WORK IN THE DARK!

7. Lowered melatonin if you’ve been awake late at night with lights on (light kills it)

8. Lowered REM sleep (dream sleep) means lowered levels of healing hormones

Here’s a little homeschool exercise to do:

Sleep affects neurotransmitter and hormone production. However, diet affects neurotransmitter production. Without a balanced diet, the body cannot make the neurotransmitters that you need. (ie: dairy, poultry, cruciferous vegetables provide the nutrients needed for serotonin production)

How many hours of sleep per night did you get last week? (Under 6 for 3 days in a row=trouble)

Did you eat a balanced diet each day?

DayHours SleptBalanced Diet (yes/no)

Look over the week- did you have overall healthy sleep?_______       Balanced diet?________

What is your mood like today?_________  (How you feel is affected in some measure by your sleep/diet.)

What is your energy level like today?_________  (Metabolism and energy are affected by sleep.)

How about trying these sleep hygiene techniques:

1. Take a warm shower or do a few stretches before bedtime (slightly elevated body heat helps you to fall asleep)

2. Do deep breathing when you get into bed

3. Once you’re in bed- no problem solving or organizing the next day. Think silly, creative, or positive thoughts- or pray

4. Practice gratitude (check out this post for practical tips on developing gratitude practices)

Homeschool high schoolers, like many teens today, have things that can disrupt their ability fall asleep well or to have good quality of sleep once they are sleeping. Here are two common issues teens face:

Stress or depression

All of these can disrupt good sleeping patterns. Here some resources:

Learn more about good sleep habits in 7Sisters popular Health curriculum and Psychology curriculum. As always, 7Sisters etexts are no-busywork, affordable, adaptable to different levels (and vetted by homeschool high schoolers who let us know what they like and do not like)!

High school health for the whole person
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You may also enjoy this interview with Vicki on the Vintage Homeschool Moms podcast where she talks about time management for teens (this can be a big factor in sleep issues).


Homeschoolers: What do you do to help get to sleep? or to get ENOUGH sleep?


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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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