Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. We still don’t really know why we sleep, but there is definitely a consensus and evidence that adequate sleep is good for you in many different and important ways.
We all know it is hard to focus on information when we’re running on too little sleep. Absorbing information when we are awake is only half the battle – consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories. Overall evidence suggests that adequate sleep each day is very important for learning and memory. For your babies, learning is their primary task for the first 18-20 years of their lives, so considering how much they need to retain, the importance of a healthy sleep schedule is hard to overstate.
We all know that when we don’t get enough sleep, we get short-tempered and irritable. A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that subjects who experienced even partial sleep deprivation reported feelings of stress and anger. Some research suggests that sleep deprivation stimulates activity in the amygdala; the part of the brain responsible for feelings of, among other things, anger and fear. These amped-up feelings can lead to an overall sense of stress in your little one and how they feel about new people and experiences like nursery and childcare.
People who regularly get between 7-9 hours of sleep see significantly lower rates of obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, infections, depression, diabetes, inflammation, hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, and heart failure. Sleep is known to restore our energy, and especially in our little ones, every day is a new and exciting adventure. The stimulation in itself is exhausting and good sleep gives them the energy they need to cope with the world around them.
There’s no question that sleep is definitely as essential part of a healthy, happy lifestyle and these benefits don’t change when you become a parent, they become more important in order to thrive and enjoy parenthood. But, and here’s the thing…..your child needs sleep even more than you do. Those little bodies may look like they’re idle when they sleep, but there’s an absolute frenzy of work going on behind the scenes. Growth hormones are being secreted to help baby gain weight and sprout up, cytokines are being produced to fight off infections and produce antibodies, all kinds of miraculous, intricate systems are at work laying the foundation for your baby’s growth and development, and they’ll continue to do so through adolescence, provided they’re given the opportunity to do so. Nature does the heavy lifting. All that’s required of your little one is to close their eyes and sleep.
So....don’t let people tell you to accept baby’s sleep issues as a part of the parenting experience. This prevents us from addressing the problem, and that is a real shame as it is affects the whole family. This is not being selfish, but because you, and even more so, your kids, need adequate sleep for so many important reasons.
Please know, if your baby is waking up 7 or 8 times a night and crying until you come into the room and rock her back to sleep, that’s not parentiing-as-usual. That’s a baby who is having trouble sleeping, and it’s interfering with their little body’s natural development. There is a remedy, so why would you want to grin and bear it for potentially, the next six years?
Take control of your own and your child’s current and future health by giving them the gift of loving and thriving from good sleep. To every parent out there, I implore you, don’t accept the idea of sleep as a luxury that you’re going to have to learn to live without. Sleep is an absolute necessity for the
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support and help on the journey to great sleep health and a professional consultant has the answers and support you need.