March 11

Children are not getting enough sleep

In a recent article in the Guardian, it stated that children sleep an hour less today than 30 years ago and this is having a dramatic effect on their intelligence, behaviour and obesity levels according to surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, yet 90% of American parents think their child is getting enough sleep. The Guardian states: There are as many causes for this lost hour of sleep including over scheduling of activities, homework, lax bedtimes, television sets and mobile phones in the bedroom. However, sleep scientists have been able to isolate and measure the impact of this single lost hour. Because children's brains are a work in progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn't have on adults. The surprise is not merely that sleep matters – but how much it matters, demonstrably, not just to academic performance and emotional stability, but to phenomena assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the international obesity epidemic and the rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some scientists theorise that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a the brain structure – damage that a child can't sleep off. It's even possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of adolescence – moodiness, depression, and even binge-eating – are symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation. Several scholars have noted that many hallmark traits of modern adolescence – moodiness, impulsiveness, disengagement – are also symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation. Might our culture-wide perception of what it means to be a teenager be unwittingly skewed by the fact that they don't get enough sleep?' Here is the full article How to explain the importance of sleep to your child. Explain the importance of sleep to your child.  Once they know the effect it has on their body and mind, they may start to appreciate it.  Explain that sleep helps our bodies stay healthy and fight sickness. Body needs sleep so our bones and muscles can grow.  Our bodies are repairing any injures that happen during the day while we sleep.  Sleep is vital for the brain so we can remember things, concentrate, learn, solve problems and come up with brilliant ideas. During the day we use up so much energy thinking at school, playing in breaks, eating, taking lessons after school and by the end of the day, our bodies are like a car that has nearly run out of petrol.  They are tired and ready to stop.  We go to sleep and fill up on petrol so we are ready and full of energy for a new day of activity.  During the day, it is light and this is the time to be awake.  Sunlight lets our brains know that it is time to wake up but when the day turns to night, our brain makes a chemical melatonin which makes us sleepy.  We need it to be dark to sleep.  A dim nightlight is fine, but as we need to keep the room as dark as possible so we get the best sleep. If you can't get to sleep, you can try lying on your back and breathing in and out slowly and deeply.  Close your eyes and say, 'I am relaxed, I am relaxed, I am relaxed'  You could even count sheep slowly.  Imagine you can see sheep jumping over a fence and see how many you can count as each one jumps over a fence. Here is a great relaxation to read to your child to help them sleep. The Robot Close your eyes, be very still and imagine that you are a robot. Your whole body is made of metal. The lights on your arms and legs and stomach are flashing brightly. The robot also makes all sorts of beeping and bleeping noises. It is a very noisy robot. Now you are going to see if you can switch the robot off and make every part of your body completely still. Start with your right leg - bring all your attention to your right leg and turn off the switch. Your right leg becomes totally still. Do the same to your left leg,

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