Did you know your kids are probably mildly to moderately sleep deprived? Most parents don’t know that children should get 10-12 hours of sleep a night – especially during the teen years. Most children are lucky to get eight hours of sleep and many teens are trying to get by on even less.
You are probably aware that sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making it easier for your children to get sick. You may also know a lack of sleep impacts their ability to learn and remember things needed during the school day. If your kids do get enough sleep, it is likely because you figured out they are better behaved when well rested! Did you know, however, that sleep deprivation can also impact their spiritual well being?
That’s right. Even with the best of intentions, your kids will struggle in multiple spiritual areas if they don’t get enough sleep. Here are five of the most common spiritual areas most negatively impacted.
- Self control/impulse control. Obedience to you, teachers, coaches and God depends in great part on self control. Can your children deny themselves something they want or want to do when it violates God’s commands? It is much more difficult to have self control when they are exhausted. They are more likely to act on impulse rather than making well thought out godly decisions.
- Generosity. A recent study of non-profit giving found that people are less generous when they are tired. Children often have a naturally generous spirit, but when they are tired, it can easily be replaced with a more selfish attitude.
- Kindness. Everyone is more likely to snap at others when they are tired. In fact, the generosity study above postulated that the lack of generosity was linked to the crankiness associated with not getting enough sleep. Godly people are consistently kind to others. Kindness can be difficult for children and teens in a world where teasing and bullying are not uncommon. Your children will find it easier to be kind when they are well rested.
- Patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning it isn’t a natural human trait. You know yourself how impatient you become when tired. Your children will struggle as well – perhaps even more so to be patient when exhausted.
- Perseverance. Living the successful Christian life requires a lot of perseverance. Even on good days, it can be tempting to give up trying to be who God wants us to be. When your children are sleep deprived, they are even more likely to give up on trying to be godly.
Your children will fight spending more time sleeping at night. You will probably need to remove all distractions from their bedrooms. They may not admit that after a few weeks of more sleep, life seems a little bit easier and better. But it will be. In fact, you are probably sleep deprived, too. Getting more sleep might just be what everyone in your family needs.