Why Sleep is Way Important- Effects of Inadequate Sleep

A baby who doesn’t get enough sleep will be either tired or hyperalert--and let's face it, more work for mom to take care of.  Overtired children are fatigued and they fight the fatigue by producing stimulating chemicals (resulting in a "second wind") and going into a hypervigilant state. This is why extreme fatigue often appears as
“wired” behavior. I'm sure we have all witnessed "wired" behavior in our own children or other's children. Please don't confuse this with your child's way of telling you that they really aren't tired. They are. I Promise! Wired behavior may result in problems with learning and social interactions. This state prevents easy entry into sleep or long sleep periods. It causes major problem with sleep transitions making it hard to ever get a nap lasting longer than 45 minutes or so.

Oh yeah, and parents suffer from lack of sleep too. This is true whether it is their own or whether it is from taking care of a more difficult, ovetired and cranky child who resists sleep more and has trouble sleeping for long periods of time.

Effects of inadequate sleep from various studies
  • Infants who sleep less during the day are often more fussy, more socially demanding, less persistent, have shorter attention spans, are less able to entertain or amuse themselves and are less interested in toys and objects.
  • The effects of sleep deprivation may remain hidden in young children, but may become apparent when they are older and have more challenging tasks to complete.
  • A constant small deficit in sleep creates worsening crabbiness.
  • Sleep inertia, which is worse with a tired child, may cause a child to awaken from a nap, which might be extra long, and scream as if in severe pain.
  • Night terrors are more common when children become severely overtired.
  • The more overtired the child is the more likely he is to be more difficult and obese.
  • Persistent sleeping problems in children have been linked to psychiatric symptoms in adolescents, hyperactivity in children, and depression in their mothers.
  • Supposed "high-needs" children may simply be overtired children. I cannot agree with this statement more. I have seen this with children time and time again.
  • Chronically fatigued babies who are overly aroused move around more in a restless-squirmy-crawly fashion when sleeping.
  • Infant sleep problems tend to persist or recur in the preschool years and are associated with more child behavior problems and maternal depression (this has been noted time and time again).
  • Boredom may be a sign of tiredness.
  • Children release the most growth hormone during deep sleep and some studies have shown a relationship between sleep amount and growth spurts.
  • Some studies have shown that adults who sleep for brief durations (which they may have learned from childhood) are more anxious.
  • If you're awake for 17 hours straight, you have the impairment of someone who is drunk. Not the best situation for raising children while keeping your cool (Bedtiming, 4)
  • Guess what is connected to 1/5 of all fatal car crashes? You guessed it. Fatigue.
  • Your thinking ability falls dramatically when you are fatigued. Not only is your short and long term memory affected, but so are you problem solving skills. (Bedtiming)
  • Sadly, marriage often suffers when you are dead tired and irritable.

FYI: once again, most this stuff is from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

While not getting enough sleep can cause havoc with your baby, remember to not let this be your excuse for all your baby's behavior when it may in fact be due to something else like discipline issues etc.

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