The Importance of Sleep: Sleep Disorders Effect School and Work Performance
As when the beginning of a new school year approaches, incorporating family changes that include more sleep for everyone will benefit school and work performance as well as improve relationships. Poor sleep quality may affect your child's ability to learn and grow. There are many kids, along with their parents, who do not get enough sleep for various reasons. Many adults, as well as teenagers, tend to think they can "make-up" hours of missed sleep on the weekends. Research indicates this does not work.
The Negative Impacts of Poor Quality Sleep
In my office, I see the negative impacts of poor quality sleep on children and adults. Parents will bring their children into my office to assess for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because their child is unable to modulate impulses and emotions while at school. Children who have ADHD often have problems falling asleep at night. The nighttime hours are when information is transferred to the hippocampus (that part of the brains tat deals with memory). If children are not sleeping well, they may not be able to retain information learned the previous day. These children have problems with memory and learning. Children who lack the sufficient amount of sleep often have low grades and lower IQ scores. Sleepy children are unable to focus and pay attention. Alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem-solving is impaired.
Adults who lack the appropriate amount of sleep suffer also. Chronic sleep loss can put one at risk for heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Adults and teens who do not get enough sleep can be a danger while driving as it can slow reaction times as much as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 55,000 auto crashes and 1,500 crash-related deaths each year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among individuals between the ages of 16 and 25, especially males, shift workers and those individuals undiagnosed or untreated who suffer with sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Sleep Disorders Can Contribute to Depression, Aging, Irritability and Isolation
Sleepiness can be depressing. Sleep disorders and inefficient amounts of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression. Depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Treating either depression or poor sleep may improve the other condition.
We have all heard the term "beauty sleep." When we do not get sufficient amounts of sleep, our bodies release the stress hormone known as cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin elastic and smooth. This breakdown of skin collagen contributes to the aging process.
Social relationships can be severely damaged by chronic sleep patterns. Adults and kids alike have increased irritability and aggression. Some suffer with substance abuse.
Often times, sleepy people want to isolate because they are simply too tired to participate in leisure activities. They do not get the same enjoyment out of life as someone who does not suffer sleep loss. Sleep loss can make on unable to cope with life's ups and downs, contributing to anxiety disorders.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
Sleep needs are individual; however, most adults require 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Elementary age children should have 10 hours of sleep each night. High school age children need 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation states, "There is laboratory evidence that short sleep durations of 4-5 hours have negative physiological and neurobiological consequences."
In-Home Sleep Testing Studies
If you find that you or your child is suffering from poor sleep, a sleep study may be warranted. Sleep studies are used to determine why sleep is impaired. There are various sleep study centers available in our community where individuals go overnight for diagnostic testing. Drs. Rosenfield and Hearn are utilizing the Watermark ARES Home Sleep Testing device as part of the diagnostic testing for their patients. This sleep study device makes it convenient and simple for the patient as the sleep study is performed in the comfort fo their own home.
Learn How to Manage Sleep Disorders
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that incorporates lifestyle changes is beneficial to remedy poor sleep patterns. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, I educate individuals about good sleep hygiene techniques or ways to prepare their bodies for sleep. I also help people learn how to manage their sleep disorders, as well as cope with the devastating effects chronic lack of sleep has on their lives.
Resist the Temptation to Stay Up Late or Rise Early
Resist the temptation of staying up an hour or two later or rising an hour or two earlier. The benefits of adequate sleep far outweigh the negative impacts of inadequate sleep. Improve your concentration, mood, sensitivity to pain and immune function. Sleep is not a luxury. It is a fundamental basic need, just as important as food and water.
Article Written by Christina Rooney, LMHC
Christina provides comprehensive counseling for children, teens and adults. For assistance with sleep disorders and other behavioral or emotional needs, please contact us.