Signs of poor sleep, like crying or eye rubbing, are easy to spot. But the impact of poor sleep can be hard to detect and can have profound effects over time. We’re talking things like lowered immunity, difficultly learning, and even hyperactivity. And this isn’t just for adults. Insufficient or irregular sleep affects people of all ages, including babies and children.
There have been many studies about the negative affects of poor sleep on children. One Journal of Pediatrics study (October, 2013) finds that prolonged periods of erratic sleep impact how the brain matures and can lead to an increase in behaviour issues. What is promising from this study is the statistically significant improvements in behavioural scores in children who moved from non-regular bedtimes to regular bedtimes.
This same study links erratic bedtimes with behavioural problems including hyperactivity, problems with peers and emotional difficulties. Prolonged periods of non-regular bedtimes cause a pronounced impact, undermining brain development and a child's ability to behave well.
There is further evidence that sleep disruptions during key development times could have lifelong impacts on health. A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (July, 2013) links shorter than average sleep times (less than 9 3/4hrs) in 4 year-olds with an increased rate of "externalizing" behaviour. problems, including overactivity, anger, aggression, impulsivity, and tantrums.
And it's not just for babies and children. A 2016 study found that even a week of partial sleep loss in teenagers led to reduced cognitive performance and impacted mood.
All of these studies point to one thing: regular, sufficient sleep is an important part of health and development. Whether your child is a baby, a toddler, or an older child, it's never too late to intervene by making better sleep habits. Even just a half hour of extra sleep per night makes a big difference to your child's development. If you are ready to commit to making changes, we would love to help.
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