What do we know about sleep? The Science Of Sleep
Key Points Sleep restores energy, boosts thinking, organizes memories, strengthens immunity, helps us lose weight, and so much more. Sleep deprivation clouds our judgment, depresses our mood, and can lead to bad decisions, car accidents, heart disease….even cancer Each day is organized around nature’s cues—telling us to wake with the sun and fall asleep after dark. This circadian rhythm is directed by the brain’s release of a special sleep hormone (melatonin)
Sleep is made up of cycles of rapid eye movement sleep or REM (the time of dreams and memory storage) and non-REM, restful sleep, which alternate over and over through the night Kids wake more often because they have shorter sleep cycles that adults (60 vs. 90 minutes) Infants have up to five times more REM sleep, which lets them file away in their memories, the flood of new things they learn every day!
Kids and Adults Have Sleep Similarities Yawn when tired Have accidents when exhausted Prefer sleeping at night Love special sleep cues (swaddling, white noise, teddy bears, favorite pillows, flannel sheets)
How much sleep do kids need? Recommended hours of sleep including naps: 0-2 months: 10.5-18 hours 2-12 months: 14-15 hours 1-3 years: 12-14 hours 3-5 years 11-13 hours 5-12 years 10-11 hours from: sleepforkids.org
Some facts and myths about sleep: Myth #1: When you’ve asleep you’re unconscious. Fact: Sleep is not a coma. We can hear the phone ring or the clock buzz. Myth #2: During sleep, your body is at rest. Fact: Your muscles may be in repose during sleep, but your heart, lungs, and liver work a twenty- four-hour shift. The brain is actively buzzing along too.
More… Myth #3: You’re either awake…or asleep Fact: Some brain cells sleep and some stay awake Myth #4: The idea of “beauty sleep” is just a silly old wives’ tale. Fact: If you want to look good, get more sleep!
Let’s begin with babies: A good sleep environment for babies:
Recommendations for safe sleep environments and practices in child care programs: Always place infants on their backs to sleep Use a firm mattress, covered with a fitted sheet, in a crib that meets the standards form the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Keep the crib free from soft objects, toys, bumper pads, pillow, and blankets. Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between cribs Remove bibs, necklaces, and garments with ties or hoods Maintain a room temperature that is comfortable for a lightly-clothes adult and provide good ventilation and air circulation
Provide active supervision by sight and sound Sitting devices such as car seats, swings, etc. should not be used for routine sleep Infants should not be put to sleep with a bottle Swaddling infants is not recommended in child care programs Pacifiers should not be fastened to an infant’s clothing. From the article, Creating an Environment for Safe and Healthy Sleep in Child Care Programs, Exchange Magazine
Think ahead! Bedtime starts in the morning Get outdoors Get sound and motion Stay on schedule: Create a flexible schedule to keep the young child from getting overtired Avoid stimulants Encourage pooping: use massage and exercises to help the little one poop during the day instead of at night during sleep
Establish a routine before bed or nap: Dim the lights Turn off noisy TV, video games, music, etc. Switch off the phone Turn on some white noise
Making “Good Night, Sleep Tight” more comfortable: Reading Can be an enjoyable part of the bedtime/naptime routine Many titles are available—or make your own!
“Good Night, Sleep Tight” Loveys a special “friend” can help children build confidence and security. Loveys can be a good habit. Rotating loveys can allow them to be kept clean and avoid the traumatic event in case of losing a single lovey.
Sleep is a basic requirement for a child’s growth and brain development Often sleep-deprived children don’t just get drowsy and go to sleep. Sleep-deprived children are often impulsive, hyperactive, aggressive, overly-emotional, inattentive, and are more likely to hurt themselves. A recent study found that children who don’t get enough sleep can mistakenly be thought to have ADHD. Poor sleep is also linked to obesity and impaired immune function.
Working with Families Around Sleep Issues The best way to tell if a child is getting enough sleep is how they look and act. If a child seems overtired, irritable, uncooperative, aggressive, over-emotional, hyperactive or inattentive, share your observations with the parents. Ask about media use, bedtime routines, nighttime waking and if the parent has to wake the child in the morning. Suggesting a sleep diary for a few days may help parents.
Other suggestions: Share information about sleep health and safety in an objective and nonjudgmental way. Consider cultural differences and practices Refer parents to their health care provider since some medical conditions can cause sleep problems.
Final Thoughts….. …and questions Good night! Sleep tight!