Have you ever noticed your three year old making conversation that sounds like nonsense? Perhaps, your toddler is perfectly capable of walking but seems to be so clumsy at times. Or maybe you are asking your child to put her toys away, and it is almost like she doesn't even know you exist as she stares into space.
These can all be signs of your little one being overtired. If this has been the case for an extended period of time, a snowball effect has now created a child suffering from sleep deprivation.
Whether or not it is ethical, sleep deprivation is often used as form of torture on POW and for very effective reasons. Not getting the sleep one needs can cause irritability, depression, lack of concentration, slower metabolic rate, and even hallucinations if denied sleep for long enough.
Just like food and water, sleep is biologically necessary in order for our bodies to properly function and survive. When we don't get the sleep we need, our brains are highly effected. Yet, it is an area in the lives of adults and children that often loses the attention that it deserves.
When we sleep, our brains are performing certain activities that don't happen when awake. This is especially true for children who are still developing mentally, physically, and emotionally. Lacking the sleep a child needs correlates with the following:
increased weight gain leading to a higher risk for obesity as an adult
disruption of brain development
lower academic success
increased nonverbal intellectual skills
increased risk for symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
decrease in creativity
difficult time managing emotions and behaviors
lowered immune system
higher risk for high blood pressure (hypertension)
higher risk for depression
On the other hand, if your child is getting the quality and quantity of sleep that he or she needs, the probability of the above decreases and the chances of the following to occur increase:
increased attention span
absorb and retain more information, such as language
control of emotions
better decision makers
higher scores on cognitive tests
lowers risk of obesity
increased reaction time
As you can see, sleep is a vital role in our lives. The sooner you can help your child develop healthy sleep habits, the healthier and more successful they will be physically, emotionally, and academically in the long run.
Turgeon, MFT, Heather and Julie Wright, MFT. The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep - Newborn to School Age. 2014. Print.