Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Sleep and Your Children

It's no surprise to anyone that poor sleep interferes with our performance. If I'm too tired, I lose things, have trouble controlling my temper, and struggle to think. New research has revealed that children's school performance is also impacted by both the quality and quantity of their rest--to the point that they may appear to have a disability when they don't.

How does sleep impact education? Sleepiness impairs attention, and it can also impact working memory and memory consolidation.

Sleepiness causes inattention, which may be confused with ADHD.

Snoozing helps working memory for children and teens. Think of working memory as the train that moves information from short term memory (which lasts seconds) to long term memory for storage. Insufficient shut eye effectively derails your train.

In addition, not enough sack time also prevents memories from being consolidated. Kind of like shoving papers randomly into a file drawer where they are more difficult to find. Knowledge gets into the brain, but can't be easily found.

Many of those with disabilities such as autism, ADHD, and intellectual disability may also experience sleep problems. These difficulties exacerbate the underlying challenges.

How can you tell if your child has a sleep problem?

  • Check on your child half an hour after bedtime to be sure he or she is not using technology too late or unable to fall asleep.
  • Listen periodically for snoring during the night. 
  • Check to see that your youngster is not sleepy when riding in a car or sitting in class. 
If you suspect a problem with adequate rest, you may want to ask your pediatrician to do a screener or a full polysomnographic study. There are medications and other procedures that can improve their slumber. For example, many children with sleep apnea may be cured by having their tonsils and adenoids removed. 

The only wrong move is to ignore it completely.