THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
I think we hear on a daily basis how 'tired' someone is. Late night after late night, early morning's at work and so on can have an impact on one's body - but just how far can we push ourselves until sleep deprivation kicks in? We give you an insight into what happens to our bodies when we sleep, and in turn - when we don't sleep. Further, how important good sleep is for babies and young children.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE
✖️Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when our bodies don't get the sleep they need on a continuous basis. Everyone's sleep needs are different, some can manage off of 6 hours a night, some need a solid 8 hours - not to mention that this is a nice, fluent streak of sleep, not six blocks of 1 hour, with wake times of 30 minutes between each!
✖️When we have a newborn baby, they do feed frequently overnight and need to be responded to - they are relying on their mum for nutrition, support, love and nurturing! Such a vulnerable little human can be expected to go long periods overnight, and in turn this means mums and dads are up as well. SO, we do need to be realistic when it comes to the wake ups you're going to experience with a newborn baby!
✖️Getting to bed earlier, where possible, or taking a little nap during the day can help, but it's the overnight sleep that is the most restorative for adults. Coffee can only help so much, and it's not a long term solution, no is it aimed at counteracting the limited sleep you've missed.
✖️Sleep deficiency is another term we talk about often. This is a broader condition which can include 1. Not getting enough sleep, not sleeping well, 2. You're sleeping at the wrong times of day [your body clock is out of sync] and 3. You have a medical condition which is preventing optimal sleep, such as OSA.
✖️Moderate sleep deprivation causes impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication. After 17 hours without sleep, we can see a change in performance, equivalent to, or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. Anything over 17 hours, or even longer periods without sleep, performance levels can be closer to the equivalent of a BAC of 0.1 percent! So, some parents are driving, cooking, parenting... LIVING as though they are intoxicated!
WHAT CAN IT DO
Central Nervous System: Known as your highway for information within the body, you need sufficient sleep for this busy centre to function correctly. When you sleep, pathways form between nerve cells, or neurons, in your brain that help you to process and remember new information. If you are not getting enough sleep, your brain can become exhausted and wont be able to perform its duties as well = memory loss! Further from this, your mental ability and mood is impaired, meaning lack of concentration and also the increased likelihood of visual or auditory hallucinations, or seeing or hearing things that aren't there [anyone with a newborn baby and limited sleep will always tell you they can hear their baby crying when they are in the shower!]
Immune System: Sleep gives your immune system the chance to 'repair'. Think about when you've been struck down with the flu or another illness - your body is pushing you to rest, sleep, sit down. You can't physically push yourself to keep going. When you're sleeping your immune system is at work producing infection fighting substances to combat foreign bugs and bacteria or viruses. Limited sleep limits your immune system towards producing these substances, and as a result we're left with a weakened immune system, and can become unwell much, much easier.
Respiratory System: Much for muchness here - with two factors contributing to respiratory issues. 1. Either an underlying condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea causing sleep disruptions or lowering the quality of your sleep, and 2. Lack of sleep resulting in reduced immune system which can cause an increase in respiratory infections or viruses.
Digestive System: Sleep can effect your hormones leptin and ghrelin, which main functions are to control the feelings of hunger and fullness. This can overtime result in weight gain, or the inability to lose weight, due to your body prompting the release of insulin
after eating, resulting in higher stores and more fat storage.
Cardiovascular System: Lack of sleep can result in reduced repair and functioning of your heart and blood pressure conditions - mainly higher blood pressure.
Endocrine System: Sleep is a huge contributor to hormone production, For your body to produce testosterone, you need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, or your first REM sleep episode. Frequent wakings and limited sleep also impacts on the growth hormone production, especially in children and adolescents. What these hormones do is assist with building muscle mass, repairing cells, tissues and also muscles. As the pituitary gland is responsible for the release of growth hormone, sleep is a vital factor to ensure this is functioning to the best of its ability.
✖️We aren't only advocating for parents here, and that is not the reason a lot of the time that we are contacted. Parents become concerned about their baby's inability to settle, their crying or limited sleep because they have done the research themselves. Child sleep is so important, and we are huge supporters of healthy sleep habits and ensuring your child achieves the optimal amount of sleep for their age.
✖️Below we have included our graphic of the function of sleep. Take a look and see just how amazing our bodies are at healing and growing. If we are so busy during the day, and experiencing limited sleep at night - then when will our bodies have the time they need to rest, repair and rejuvinate?
For help with your child’s sleep, contact us to arrange an in office or phone consult here