April 16, 2004
April 16, 2004

Can Sleep Deprivation Be the Problem?

Do you know a common component for all these problems: teens auto accidents and fatalities, teens using drugs or alcohol, school or work tardiness, two or more days per week unable to attend school or work, elementary school children with ADHD symptoms (i.e. overactivity, extreme talking, poor learning skills or lack of focus, irritability, difficulty modulating impulses and emotions, troublemaker),marital problems, overweight problems? If you have guessed lack of sleep due to late bedtimes or a possible sleep disorder, you are likely to have have guessed correctly.

The National Sleep Foundation has researched the required amounts of sleep and the resulting failures in behavior and performance due to a lack of it. Situations that appear to be caused by societal or physical disabilities are sometimes merely due to the lack of sleep. Did you know that the heart, muscles, skin, bones, eyes, and brain are damaged by the lack of sufficient amounts of daily sleep? Infants need 10.5 to 18 hours of sleep. A two months old to one year child must have 14 to 15 hours. A one year old to three year old need 12 to 14 hours sleep. A three to five year old needs 11 to 13 hours of sleep. A five to twelve year old requires 10 to 11 hours sleep. A teenager must have nine hours sleep nightly. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If these safety recommendation are not adhered to, then the alertness, memory and performance of both child and adult is likely to exhibit moodiness and possible rages. In fact the Sleep Foundation suggests it may also influence Road Rage.

The National Sleep Foundations states,“During sleep, the body secretes a number of necessary hormones that affect growth, regulate energy, and affect metabolic and endocrine functions. For example, near the end of the sleep period, the body secretes the stress hormone, cortisol, which stimulates alertness. Sleep is also the time when growth hormone is secreted, which drives childhood growth and plays an important part in regulating muscle mass in adults. Further, the sleep cycle affects secretion of the hormone, leptin. This hormone tells the body when it should feel full and thus, has a direct influence on appetite and weight.

Because of the many biochemical and physiological processes that take place during the sleep cycle, there is a strong consensus among research scientists – from sleep experts to specialists in the fields of endocrinology, psychology and the neurosciences – that adequate sleep is essential to health and wellness. Although the function of sleep is not well understood, what is clear is that sleep is indispensable.”

Other than quoting every word of their important studies, this column summarizes the many areas that sleep deprivation has been found to cause trauma within our lives. Yet the solution is so obviously simple. Get more rest! Find time for your children and yourself to relax quietly without stimulating excitement before bedtime. You might save a marriage or a life.