Tuesday, January 26, 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP FOR GROWING MINDS

Bed time will always be a struggle for parents. Yes, sometimes it is easier to cave in and let the buggers stay up a little later. We are exhausted after a day at work, supper, running back and forth to hockey, etc. Our will to struggle is zapped. You might be interested in knowing that letting them stay up to watch TV, read, one last game  or use some electronic device is worse for them than we might have imagined. 


The discussion in my house about sleep and nutrition has always been evidenced based. The growing body needs sleep, like it needs iron, vitamins and exercise. Poorly nourished children and sleep deprived children are just not as successful as their well rested peers. Poor sleep affects about 25 per cent of the world’s children.

For the most part, my boys have adhered to a fairly strict sleeping schedule. There have been ups and downs but overall they get their 8 -11 hours of sleep every night. The routine of bath, pajamas, and a story before lights out worked well up to junior high.  No one seems excited to hear my rollicking stories about the adventures of Rusty Goo Goo and the Rawhide kid anymore. My middle guy has the toughest time slowing down, part of his nightly routine is a melatonin tablet. My oldest is the best sleeper of all. He rarely deviates from his sleep routine.


I have written about the importance of sleep for adults and children before. Sleep doctors pronounce that we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation epidemic. Some results of studies from the World Association of Sleep Medicine to consider:


  •  A person who has not slept for 20 hours has a level of impairment equal to someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 per cent
  • Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other medical conditions. 
  • The day’s learning is cemented by the growth and strengthening of neural connections
  • The body does its restorative healing work and releases growth hormones while sleeping
  • The prefrontal cortex is especially impacted by tiredness
  • Sleep deprive children produce more Cortisol which stimulates a carbohydrate craving that can lead obesity.
For more information about Sleep Deprivation and why parents are not doing their kids any favours by letting them stay up check out this really informative piece from the Huff Post Canada.

The bottom line, sleep is really, really important to your child's physical and mental development. Why would we spend thousands of dollars on sports and extra-curricular activities for our kids and not implement a sleeping regime that allows them to receive the maximum benefits.


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