Benefits of Good Sleep Habits
Please note that this section contains my personal notes from my readings on this topic.
Sleep habits affect learning in children. Different studies of children at different ages all agree on this point.
More Able To Learn
Infants who sleep more during the day are better able to learn from their environment; this is because they have a better-developed ability to maintain focused or sustained attention. Like a dry sponge in water, they soak up information about their surroundings. They learn simply from looking at the clouds and trees, touching, feeling, smelling, hearing, and watching their mothers’ and fathers’ faces. Infants who sleep less in the daytime appear more fitful and socially demanding, and they are less able to entertain or amuse themselves. Toys and objects are less interesting to these more tired children.
“Sleep problems not only disrupt a child’s nights, they disrupt his days, too, by making him less mentally alert, more inattentive, unable to concentrate, and easily distracted. They also make him more physically impulsive, hyperactive, or lazy. But when children sleep well, they are optimally awake and alert, able to learn and grow up with charm and humor. When parents are too irregular, inconsistent, or oversolicitous, or when there are unresolved problems between the parents, the resulting sleep problems converge, producing excessive night-time wakefulness and crying.”
When children do not nap well, they pay a price. Infants between four and eight months who do not nap well have shorter attention spans or appear less persistent when engaged in activities. By three years of age, children who do not nap or who nap very little are often described as nonadaptable or even hyperactive. Adaptability is thought to be a very important trait for school success.
From a study of sixty healthy children in Dr. Weissbluth’s pediatric practice, at age three, the children who slept more were more fun to be around, more sociable, and less demanding. The children who slept less not only tended to be more socially demanding, bratty, and fussy, but they also behaved somewhat like hyperactive children. Later, I will explain how these fatigued, fussy brats are also more likely to become fat kids.
Less Prone to Headaches and Abdominal Pain.
Many studies have been conducted with shift workers and in sleep labs on the internal desynchronization of circadian rhythms, the uncoupling of rhythms that are normally closely linked, and shifting rhythms that are out of phase with one another. The most common complaints in these adults are headaches and abdominal pain. Such people appear healthy and can function reasonably well except for the fact that they have pain in their head and / or stomach.
There is a large pediatric literature on headaches and recurrent abdominal pains; also, this is very familiar territory to parents of school-age children who have highly scheduled, busy lifestyles.
Additional consequences of disorganized sleep include fatigue, stress, and perhaps chronically elevated cortisol levels. Once in place, a pattern of disorganized sleep sets in motion other specific sleep disturbances, such as night waking or an inability to fall asleep easily.
Stronger Immune System.
Furthermore, recent research has shown that the hormones that are important to regulate sleep are also involved with the immune system, which helps us to fight infections. And research has shown that even modest sleep loss can impair cellular immune function. An article published in Science News in 2002, “Missed ZZZ’s, more Disease: Skimping on sleep may be bad for your health” describes how “poor sleep habits are as important as poor nutrition and physical inactivity in the development of chronic illness.” They specifically cite obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Click on Sleep’s Influence on “Intelligence” and School Performance to read more.
- Sleep’s Impact on the Brain
- Benefits of Good Sleep Habits
- Sleep Tips
- Five Elements of Healthy Sleep
- Prevent Poor Sleep Habits
- Biological Rhythms