Sleep: The often-overlooked stress reliever
You’ve probably heard someone say “there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep.” It’s true, there really isn’t anything like it. Sleep makes you feel better and look better. But what’s often overlooked is its tremendous impact on people’s minds, especially young children’s minds.
The importance of sleep
Sleep is extremely important for children because it directly impacts their physical and mental development. Kids who are sleep deprived will not have the energy to battle life’s stresses. They’ll essentially be an underdog in every challenge. Over time, they’ll be more susceptible to significant emotional and behavioral concerns.
“Sleep-deprived children often display dysregulated behavior, aggression, low tolerance for stress, and mood problems,” says SSM Health Child Psychiatrist Dr. Bhawani Ballamudi.” They’ll also struggle with attention issues and anger outbursts, in addition to impaired cognitive performance.”
Not just a problem for today
Dr. Ballamudi says childhood sleep habits often continue into adulthood. If problematic sleep patterns develop at a young age, they can cause mental health and physical symptoms farther down the road.
“People are more likely to struggle with mood concerns, daytime productivity, focus and concentration, and the ability to handle stress,” adds Dr. Ballamudi.
The severity may even go beyond those things. Harvard researchers argue sleep problems were once viewed only as symptoms of a disorder. Now they believe the sleep problems may actually contribute to some disorders. A study shows those who sleep poorly are much more likely to develop significant mental illness, including depression and anxiety.
How can parents help?
Dr. Ballamudi encourages parents to become teachers about good sleep hygiene. Educating kids about the importance of sleep and helping them get good sleep is important at every stage of development, including the teenage years. The sleep requirements may change from newborns to teenagers, but the importance of adequate sleep cannot be undermined in any age group.
Here are Dr. Ballamudi’s primary recommendations for helping your kids:
— Sit down and talk about the importance of healthy sleeping habits
— Emphasize the need for a regular, consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine
— Make the bedroom conducive to sleep (dark, cool and quiet)
— Keep electronics out of the bedroom
— Avoid caffeine, especially in the evenings
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