The Importance of Sleep - January 2021

Craving Carbs? Indecisive? Less flexible? SLEEP could be the culprit.

Last month in Parent Corner we shared about the integral role and amazing benefits of routines and schedules in family life, and even more so during all these “pivots”.  One arena where routines and schedules are really important is around our sleep.  Why is sleep so important?  We know intuitively that a good night's rest can make a better day ahead, but you might be surprised that craving carbs and indecision could be related to sleep deprivation.  Let’s look at what else sleep affects. Current research suggests many challenging behaviors in children and adults are correlated to the amount and quality of sleep we get.

Here are a few signs that someone may not be getting enough sleep (Yes, even us adults): 

  • Emotionally: irritated and impatient, easily overwhelmed, anxious, upset by changes.
  • Attention, Focus and Performance: can’t focus, doesn’t listen, talks excessively, forgetful, indecisive, seek over-stimulation.
  • Bodily: has to be woken, hits, yells, craves carbohydrates, headaches, stomach aches, clumsy, frenzied.
  • Social Situations: bossy and demanding, difficulty solving problems, less flexible, argumentative, feelings easily hurt.

Wow! Right!?  So many areas are affected by the amount and type of sleep we get.  It influences us so much that it is one of the first questions doctors, teachers, and therapists ask.  “How are you sleeping?” or “How did you sleep last night?”  

So what can affect our sleep?young girl sleeping with her mouth open

A few sleep busters include:

  • limited exposure to morning light
  • irregularity of mealtimes, wake times and bedtimes
  • lack of exercise
  • alerting activities before bed (that was ice cream for my children)
  • skipped snacks or snacks that are only carbs 

So how do we break up these sleep busters?  Resetting our biological clocks is often necessary.  We do this by setting up routines and schedules that tell our bodys that it is time to sleep and we create environments that encourage awake time and sleep time.  Think activity & exercise, consistent sleeping times, light and noise, baths, reading, regular wake times, bedtime routines.  

As you look at the new year, 2021, I encourage you to consider what role sleep has been playing in your family’s life.  Maybe some better zzz’s can lead to fewer carbs, calmer interactions, and more enjoyable days together.  May you and your’s thrive this coming year!

Resources:  Sleep Schedule IdeasSleep Tips & Sleep Traps