Dr. Matthew Walker, a doctor in neurophysiology, said
“Sleep, unfortunately, is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. It is your life-support system, and it is Mother Nature's best effort yet at immortality."
He continued by saying, "And the decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and the education of our children. It's a silent sleep loss epidemic, and it's fast becoming one of the greatest public health challenges that we face in the 21st century.“
Sleep has a huge influence on our day to day life. If we sleep too little it can be detrimental to not only our mood but more importantly our health. Why we need to sleep has never been grasped but the benefits that come from sleep are fully understood. We are able to learn and remember more, our immune systems are stronger and we also know that many of the major restorative functions in the body occur only when you are sleeping - like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release to name a few.
Having said that, lack of sleep can make you less intelligent, more forgetful, unable to learn new things, more vulnerable to dementia, heart attacks, less able to fend off sickness because it weakens your immune system, hormonal shifts occur, just to name a few things. Think about how you feel after sleeping just a few hours at night - you feel sluggish, snippy, easy to anger, and tasks sometimes feel harder to get through. Whereas when you've slept a full 8-hours, you feel like a million bucks. Full of energy and ready to start your day!
Think about how all this can affect you as an adult and now consider it for a young child who is still developing emotionally and physically. Are they getting the amount of sleep they need to support that growth? As a mother, it was evident to me when my firstborn starting sleeping well throughout the night independently. He completely changed. He became calm, happy, and he even ate more. We experienced no temper tantrums and it was almost as if we had pushed a reset button. Bedtime had become a nightmare for us but when we sleep trained and he seemed to understand how much better he felt getting a full night's rest, awful bedtimes became something of the past and is now something we enjoy.
I'd also like to point out that babies and children are learning constantly throughout the day. They are soaking up everything around them, listening to new words, seeing new things, and exploring their surroundings. In order for our little ones to retain what they have learned throughout the day, sleep is necessary both before and after learning something new. According to Dr. Walker said “You need sleep after learning, to essentially hit the save button on those new memories so you don’t forget. But recently we’ve discovered that you also need sleep before learning. Almost like a dry sponge to suck up new information. Without sleep, the brain becomes essentially waterlogged.”
Sleep is something that is crucial to our lives and needs to be taken seriously. Starting now to teach your child the gift of sleep will build a good foundation for the rest of their lives. Essentially giving them a step-up in life.
Dr. Walker's TED Talk on the effects of Sleep -