Effects of Sleep on Your Child’s Brain Development

If a child has continuous sleep problems for a number of years this will hugely impact on the child’s development. It is important for parents to identify these problems and act on them. If your children are sleep deprived they may develop problems with behaviour, attention, learning, and memory.

The term “sleep on it” is very beneficial. If you have a problem you have a much better chance of solving it after a good night’s sleep. Some studies have shown that REM sleep holds important psychological functions. They suggest that sleep allows us to process daytime experiences and move recent memories into long-term storage. Therefore if a child is not getting an adequate amount of REM sleep they are not processing and storing the information they gathered during the day. This will result in the child taking longer to learn and develop in comparison to a child who is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. [boy with book]

As a result, the child maybe sleepy in school and their capabilities can be misjudged, as they appear uninterested. They become more accident prone as their judgement is impaired. They may lose interest in participating in sports and active play as a result of lack of sleep the night before. The child may experience difficulties in making friendships as they do not have the interest to participate in activities. These factors may in some cases lead to depression in children.

DiabetesStudies have also been carried out to show that the lack of sleep affects the body’s ability to adequately use insulin. Currently childhood type 2 diabetes is rising. Lack of sleep and obesity are contributing factors. With this in mind, potentially our children are at risk of a multitude of medical problems due to lack of sleep

ADHDMany children who were thought to suffer or have ADHD subsequently discovered that lack of sleep was the main cause of the problem. Very often you will find that your children can get very hyperactive from overtiredness and become unable to concentrate on a task for any significant amount of time. As overtiredness in some children can seem the same as ADHD, this can sometimes be misdiagnosed.

In Short: Childhood is as much about learning and analysing and interpreting and understanding as anything else. They use their brains for that. So let them sleep!

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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