A good night’s sleep can feel like magic. You wake up feeling positive, patient and quick on the draw intellectually. But after a bad night of sleep, you wake up cranky, slow or generally unhappy. The connection between sleep and one’s mood and capability during their day is almost painfully obvious, and since the experience is fairly universal, there’s been a significant amount of research done on the correlation between sleep quality and daytime function. All of that research is a pretty strong indicator that each of us should be making sleep a priority, every single day. But we’re not. And here’s how that choice is affecting us.
The body’s short-term, day-to-day response to poor sleep
The right amount of quality sleep is the foundation of each successful day. During sleep, your body and mind cycle through a number of critical functions, from forming pathways in your brain to strengthen learning and memories, to producing hormones to promote a healthy body, to general maintenance of both.
Without going through the stages of sleep in the order, quantity and quality needed, there are immediate effects. If you’re feeling less productive at work and school, that could be a sign of sleep deficiency. People who are sleep deficient make more mistakes and take longer to finish tasks.
Those daily issues translate to long-term health issues
As if being behind the curve at work or school isn’t enough of a reason to focus on making sure you consistently get the sleep you need, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a point to make: “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.” Yikes. That’s a lot of
In case that’s not enough to make you stop and smell the roses, the risk of obesity also increases with sleep deficiency. While you sleep, your body maintains a healthy balance of the hormones that control your appetite: ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, and leptin, which makes you feel full. Without enough sleep, ghrelin levels go up and leptin goes down, so you feel hungrier than you would if you had just had a good night of sleep.
Another fun gift that sleep deficiency can give: a weakened immune system. Ongoing lack of sleep can make your immune system susceptible to common infections, so you can get sick more frequently as your body fails to do its job properly. You’ve probably experienced this side effect in the short term, where you have a few days of bad sleep and you get hit with an annoying cold. Well if you have weeks and weeks of bad sleep, those colds get worse and the issue gets more serious.
There are other consequences of poor sleep that go beyond the “me” and can affect the “we.” Yeah, your bad mood makes you a less pleasant parent, friend or coworker, but there is also evidence that sleep deficient drivers are as impaired, if not
When it comes to your health, the research is pretty conclusive. If you’re not prioritizing sleep, even if you’re not seeing the effects in the immediate term, you sure will in the future. The same is true for our kids. Their issues are a little
Kids need good sleep even more than adults
Sleep is more consequential for children. Their bodies and minds are continuously going through key phases of development during their sleep, forming stronger connections between the two hemispheres of the brain and developing healthy muscle tissue. The hormone that promotes healthy growth in children and teens is released during
Issues with sleep were also once thought to be symptoms of certain psychiatric disorders in children, but recent research shows that the sleep issues Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Various sleep problems affect 25% to 50% of children with ADHD...The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping difficulties overlap so much it may be difficult to tease them apart.” One study published in the Journal for Sleep Research even found that treating sleep problems may be able to eliminate attention and hyperactivity issues for some children. The connection is not fully defined, but it’s impossible to ignore. Parents struggling with kids’ with ADHD need to look at sleep not only as a symptom to be treated but as a possible contributing factor to the issue.
Another correlation has been found between sleep quality and depression, both in children and adults. Various studies of different populations and with different methodology have found that approximately 90% of children with depression experience some kind of issue with their sleep. The results are less consistent for adults, with findings between 65-90% of adults with depression having a sleep problem. As acknowledgment and awareness of depression gains traction, identifying and treating as many of the potential influencing factors as possible will achieve progress with the disorder.
Kids are resilient so we need to pay more attention to their sleep health
When kids aren’t getting the sleep they need, their behavior is far different than adults. Instead of the sluggishness that adults expect to see and feel when they get poor sleep, children can go to the opposite end of the spectrum, showing their tiredness as hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention. Kids also bounce back much more easily and quickly than adults from pretty much everything, including health issues, so it could take longer to notice an issue if the parent doesn’t know what they’re looking for.
Let’s all just get some good sleep already
With all of the short-term, long-term, physical and psychological effects of poor sleep, knowledge of what’s happening at night is crucial. Especially as kids go through the formative early stages of development, sleep should be part of their annual wellness check-up and monitored as closely as their diet and exercise. Luckily for kids, now there’s Knit.
Knit has designed a one-of-a-kind solution for helping kids get the sleep they need to thrive. Designed with your kids in mind, Knit makes sleep part of the overall picture of health. Knit, for kids 3-12, identifies sleep issues in kids easily and from the comfort of your home with cutting-edge camera vision technology, the only tech on the market that can detect sleep breathing issues. You can try Knit with your kids and see if the results surprise and benefit your children's health as much as they have other Knit parents.