Recognizing drowsiness is difficult. We have established this in a young child, but what about older students? A high school student can return home from a swim meet, write a final version of an English essay, and start studying for a government exam at midnight without looking particularly bothered by fatigue. “As long as I get my four hours, I’m good to go” is the familiar battle cry. And of course they get two personal bests in the swim meet, solid A- on the try, and although the government exam results haven’t come back yet, the feeling is that everything went very well. pass.
A child’s ability to stay up late and do well in school is often seen as a positive rather than a negative, and it doesn’t stop in high school. In residence, we called it power. Who cares how smart a neurology resident is when they’re too tired to do their best during an overnight hospitalization? And like so many other sleep-related things, potency is genetic.
To understand power, sleep needs, and functional levels, consider these three high school kids who average only 4.5 hours of sleep per night:
If we consider Kourtney, we find that although she needs seven hours of sleep, she only gets an average of 4.5 hours per night. She lacks the gene for high function despite insufficient sleep (horsepower), so she functions poorly and has trouble staying awake in school.
Kim, too, only sleeps 4.5 hours a night when she needs seven, but she’s been given the potency gene, and despite getting insufficient rest, she’s functioning at a high level. The potency gene may be a genetic variant of HLA DQB1*0602, the gene linked to narcolepsy. People with this genetic variant may experience less drowsiness due to sleep deprivation. Although this state of sleep deprivation is still an unhealthy situation for Kim, she does not exhibit significant sleepiness. In other words, it’s totally unhealthy, but Kim can handle it!
Finally, in this example, we see that Khloé only gets 4.5 hours of sleep per night, but that matches her natural biological need, which at first glance seems unusually low. She is functioning well despite having less than average sleep because that is what she needs. . . no need for the potency gene to help him perform well if his perceived deficit isn’t really a deficit. You may remember the names of people like Khloé. We call them the little sleepers. These are the people who need less sleep than normal to function at their best. The genetic basis of these rare, rule-defying individuals was only recently uncovered when specific genetic mutations regulating the need for sleep were identified. Despite this, Khloé is fine because she genetically needs less sleep.
The point of explaining all of this to you is that your child is a totally unique individual with a specific set of genes that this world has never had and will never see again. It is important to constantly assess their sleep time and functional level. If they’re getting enough sleep and functioning well, there’s not much you can do apart from ongoing monitoring. If your child is not getting the right amount and not functioning well, they may need more. As we see with Khloé, Kim and Kourtney, in order for the child to function well getting what seems like a small amount of sleep, it may be necessary to push for more sleep and see if your child is using the time. of sleep (a Kim, so to speak) or seem unable to get that new higher amount (the rare Khloé).