Have you ever noticed that tired kids tend to bump into thing, trip on stairs or fall off their bikes and scrape their knees more often than when they’re had a good night’s sleep? Lack of sleep can affect how our brain works…remember those all-night study sessions in college? By morning, you probably felt like you were walking through toffee and speaking gibberish. But even if you aren’t pulling all-nighters anymore, operating on a sleep debt can cause the same problems.
What is a sleep debt, you ask?
Well, you need a certain amount of sleep every night to be functioning at your best. Let’s say it’s eight hours. That would be considered your baseline—but if you start losing sleep because of stress or work or kids who wake up in the night, every hour of sleep you lose creates a sleep debt for your body.
Let’s say you usually go to bed at 10:00 and wake up at 6:00 am. If you stay up late watching a movie and don’t make it to bed until 11:00, but you still get up at 6:00, you now have a sleep debt of one hour. If the same thing happens the next night and you haven’t made up for your lost sleep, now you have two hours of sleep debt, and on and on it goes. Carry enough debt and by the end of the week you could have a balance of minus six or seven hours, and the consequences can be pretty severe.
Check out these stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: They claim that during an average year, tired drivers cause approximately 100,000 car crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. Also, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that 20% of all drivers have dozed off at least once behind the wheel. Pretty scary stuff!
And really, it makes perfect sense. Being tired makes us less alert and less able to react quickly.
Unfortunately, this is very much the case for children too. Kids are just as susceptible to sleep debt as adults, if not more.
Just take those same principles and apply them to an active toddler. If she has accumulated sleep debt, she is going to be more prone to hurting herself because her coordination is going to be compromised. Sleep deprivation can also seriously impact a child’s ability to thrive and succeed at school. According to sleepdex.org, teens who suffer from insomnia or who don’t go to bed early enough reported being more depressed and were more likely to have a negative self-image. They were also found to have inferior coping behaviors and more behavioral problems at home and in school.
As you can see, sleep debt can cause serious problems, but luckily the negative effects can be reversed once the person starts sleeping well again. This is why it’s so important to have your kids on a good nighttime routine so they can stick to their schedule and get the sleep they need to be at their best. I know, I know…I’ve said that a hundred times. But that’s because it’s true :)
Also, if you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step guide that will help you get your baby or toddler sleeping straight through the night check out The Sleep Sense Program.
"The Ferber Method" is probably the most widely recognizable strategy for getting a baby…View Post
Toddlers are the most curious creatures in the world, and when they're suddenly presented…View Post
I did an in home consult several years with a couple that had not…View Post