Sleep Helps Children Perform Better

We go on and on about how sleep deprivation is bad for our kids… Well, here’s a terrific video that explains more about the effects of sleep deprivation and the harm it causes:

Notes from the video:

  • sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalance, illness, and even death
  • sleeplessness is also linked to inflammation, hallucinations, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity
  • losing sleep can affect learning, memory, mood and reaction times
  • adolescents need 10 hours of sleep a night but statistics from the US show that 66% adolescents sleep deprived
  • during non-REM sleep, DNA is repaired and the body is replenish for the next day
  • what sleep does – glymphatic system cleans up toxic waste products from the brain that have built up during the day

Top 10 Psychological Effects of Sleep Deprivation

  1. The brain has to work harder
  2. Working memory function decreases significantly
  3. Inability to form long-term memories
  4. Inability to pay attention
  5. Loss of planning and coordination
  6. The brain goes into autopilot which allows bad habits to kick in
  7. Prefrontal cortex shuts down making it harder to assess risk and to make good decisions
  8. Death of brain cells
  9. Manic episodes, such as psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations, aggression
  10. Death – individuals suffering from loss of sleep are unable to assess the severity of the effects on themselves which makes them more dangerous on the road compared to a drunk driver

Regular Bedtimes and Cognitive Function in Children

Regular bedtimes really matter to your child’s developing brain. In a study by Kelly et al. (2013), a group of researchers followed 11,000 children from the age of 3 to 7 years old. In this study, they measured the effects of bedtimes on the children’s cognitive function and found that the children who had irregular bedtimes at 3 years of age had lower scores in reading, maths, and spatial awareness. They concluded that:

The consistent nature of bedtimes during early childhood is related to cognitive performance. Given the importance of early child development, there may be knock on effects for health throughout life.

Sleep and Motor Performance

We know that sleep is important for helping the brain commit new information to memory, but new research by Allen (2012) shows that sleep can also enhance the learning of motor skills, like playing the piano. In this study, it was found that musicians practicing a new song improved in speed and accuracy after a night’s sleep.

Sleep Reinforces Learning Especially in Children

In a study by Wilhelm et al. (2013), a group of children between 8 and 11 years old and a group of young adults were given a task to learn. Their memories were subsequently tested after a night of sleep or a day of staying awake. As expected, recall was better for both groups after a night of sleep, but recall was even better for the children compared to the adults.

In children, much more efficient explicit knowledge is generated during sleep from a previously learned implicit task, and the children’s extraordinary ability is linked with the large amount of deep sleep they get at night. – Science Daily

Sleep Deprivation Impairs Social Ability

Since sleep deprivation decreases activity in the prefrontal cortex which helps us make sense of emotions and social signals, social skills and ability are also affected. Sleep deprivation affects four processes that are vital for positive social interactions – it increases negativity and selfishness, decreases empathy, and makes it harder to resolve conflict. It also affects our ability to read facial expressions which is another vital skill for good social interaction.

children need sleep

Image courtesy of A454 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even though there is still a lot we are learning about what sleep does for us, the bottom line is clear: we all need to sleep and we need to get enough of it – especially our children.

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