All Brains Need Sleep


In this hectic world, sleep is in far too short of a supply. Brains need a lot of sleep. Sleep scientists around the world are reporting clear relationships between sleep and mental and physical health.

During sleep, the brain performs biologically necessary functions of waste clean up (amyloid-beta deposits), regeneration, recharging, and restoration of vital brain structures. Without this clean up and restoration, the waste piles up and can, in time, kill off vital brain cells. This, in fact, has been found to be the process of Alzheimer's disease.

To add insult to injury, the more waste in the brain un-cleaned, the less deep sleep is achievable.

You could, by not allowing or enforcing adequate time for sleep, be inadvertently making a long time cycle of sleep deprivation and health and mental wellness issues, well into adulthood.

Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist, writes about how necessary sleep is in his book Why We Sleep: The new Science of Sleep and Dreams. He concludes that sleep impacts virtually every area of health. He states very clearly that the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life. It is not, however, just about the length of life, but the quality of life both mentally and physically. Specific to the brain, he states that lack of sleep shuts down the hippocampus allowing 40% fewer memories to be made, over activates the amygdala causing a destabilization of emotions and rational thought. He also states that there are pretty clear links between lack of sleep and mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and even suicide.

With respect to behaviour, research has proven time and time again that mental focus, attention, emotional wellness, and behaviour is adversely affected by just 30 minutes less sleep a night!

Children and teens NEED approximately 10-11 hours of sleep per night. (Adults need 8-9).

This is non-negotiable.

Without adequate sleep, the brain cannot function optimally. Period.

I know that life is busy. I know it is difficult to fit everything into one day. I get it. Back in the day when I had all 7 children at home and I worked at a dental office full time, we had to work out a few ground rules. We came up with a schedule to help keep priorities a priority, like sleep. When we changed our mindset and our priorities to include adequate sleep, behaviour and mental focus changed dramatically, for all of us. I now, very occasionally, allow the children to stay up late. They know that they do not feel as well the next day because they are conscious of it. We made the change to better sleep together using science as our motivation, and it was one of the best decisions we have made. Now, when it is bedtime, no one argues because they all know it’s importance. We laughingly call it getting our “brain beauty sleep”.

Most comments to me about sleep are parents that have their child in extracurricular activities involving driving somewhere after school, eating out at a fast food restaurant, going to the sporting event, coming home late and exhausted, not looking at homework clearly or for long, and going to bed late with an active, un-relaxed brain. This may seem okay at the time and you may feel like a super-parent dedicating all your energy and time, but sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives.

I know most people think that this super-parenting with events and organized sports are great and almost expected in this fast-paced society, but if it is taking away from the health, IQ, focus, and happiness that could be achieved by having enough sleep and proper healthy meals, is it worth it?

Your child needs adequate quality sleep daily.

Your responsibility, as a parent, is to give your child the time and the environment to actually sleep, and enforce a strict bedtime.

Your child will, in time, look forward to bedtime, wake up refreshed and clear minded, and be…





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