We know that kids need sleep, and that those who go to sleep earlier tend to get better grades. We also know that kids who sleep later have trouble concentrating in early morning classes. But what actually happens in your child’s body when they get enough sleep versus when they don’t?
Why kids need sleep
- Leftover adenosine, which is produced when your body burns energy, makes you sleepy. When you sleep, adenosine levels drop, which is what makes you feel rested.
- Sleep helps brain function, specifically with memory. The best way to be ready for a test is to be well rested: your brain will remember things quicker and easier!
- Sleep conserves energy.
- Sleep causes restoration to occur in your brain. According to brain plasticity theory, our mind actually reorganizes while we sleep.
What happens when your child doesn’t sleep?
- Sleep deprivation increases risks of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
- As outlined in the same SciShow video above, just one night without sleep causes the amygdala, which tells the brain to be prepared for danger, to go into overdrive.
- The prefrontal cortex, which deals with logical reasoning, gets shut down with sleep deprivation. Definitely a concern if your child has a test the next day!
- Memory and speech control suffer.
- Kids need sleep otherwise their immune system can be affected.
- As explained by AsapSCIENCE, brain function can be recovered by a few nights of good sleep after 1 or 2 nights of bad sleep. However, the longer you go without good sleeps at night, the longer it takes to recover brain function, and there is even the possibility of permanent damage.
Quick tips on how to help your child sleep more
The harmful effects of lack of sleep are certainly scary, and it is clear that they will affect your child’s learning at school and during tutoring sessions. So, here are some ways to make sure your child or teenager gets enough sleep every night:
- Educate your kids on why sleep is so important so they are motivated to get more sleep.
- Make sure they have a set sleep schedule, and a bedtime!
- Try to get them to finish their homework by one hour before their bedtime.
- Avoid bright lights and electronics close to bedtime.
If your child has trouble sleeping at night and none of these methods work, sleep aids could be an option. However, there are many unpleasant side effects, so it is best to consult your doctor to figure out what best suits your child’s needs. Sweet dreams!