By Wendy Barber, Middle School Nurse

There is obvious disruption of our social interaction and learning style, and there are likely disruptions in our sleep cycles as well. If your family is anything like mine, we have had a lot more movie nights and tons of exceptions to our normal bedtime regimen since we’ve been quarantined. Altering your day to fit your family’s needs is absolutely fine, but it is important not to forget the importance of adequate sleep—especially for growing bodies!

In addition to washing our hands and disinfecting surfaces, it’s important to “clean” our brains as well. No doubt remote learning, finding creative ways to pass the time with kids, and the stress of so much uncertainty is weighing heavy on our minds right now. Think of your brain as a factory. It takes so much power and coordination to keep up the daily operations. Our every breath, every movement, every thought, and every emotion relies on our brains juggling ongoing and new information constantly. Just like the whistle blows to let the workers know it’s time to stop for the day, we need to give our brains an adequate time to recover as well.

When we sleep, more proteins and enzymes are released that can repair and protect our bodies and restore our immune system. Hormones regulate during sleep, and our bodies filter through information that can be stored for later use. Conversely, with inconsistent and inadequate sleep, we increase our risk for conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and chronic infections, our hormones and emotions can get out of sync, and we can feel overloaded and disorganized in our thoughts.

Without commuting to work for hours of our day, extracurricular activities pushing our school work into the night, and all of the usual commitments/distractions that vie for our time, we can take advantage of these remote days to rest and renew ourselves. It’s important to stay in an adequate sleep cycle in order to bolster our mental, emotional, and physical capacity to function.