What’s the big deal?
It’s a sad fact, but ongoing sleep problems can negatively affect children’s cognitive development, mood regulation, behavior and health. Parent’s health and wellbeing can also be affected by their children’s sleep problems, as chronically sleep deprived parents are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, depression and have reduced coping abilities. Sleep deprivation also has links to physiological changes that have connections to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and fatigue related accidents. It’s no wonder family functioning can be impaired when there’s not much sleep going on!
Why we love our Sleep
- Sleep is a biological need for humans, just like food and love.
- During sleep, appetite is regulated, cells grow and repair and the immune system is strengthened (children who don’t get enough sleep are much more prone to common colds and flu).
- Studies have also shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate memories ,which helps us to remember the important things in life. In contrast, losing sleep makes us more likely to make silly mistakes. It impairs problem solving and focus as brain neurons aren’t able to function optimally.
- Sleep allows our bodies to repair and rejuvenate by repairing tissue, boosting muscle mass and releasing growth hormones.
- Sleep allows the brain to develop the ability to concentrate, it ‘recharges the brain’s battery’.
- Overtired children produce the stimulating hormone cortisol which can inhibit their ability to settle to sleep and sleep for extended lengths of time..
- Sleep deficiency in childhood may harm neurological development, with problems presenting later in life with things like ADHD or learning disabilities (Weissbluth).
- Chronically tired children can become chronically tired adults who can suffer with lack of resilience, less ability to cope with stress, less curiosity, empathy and playfulness (Weissbluth).