The alarm goes off. I want to sleep more, but realize I better get up; the kids need to get to school and there are projects to get done. I went to bed late last night, trying to finish up some things. My head is foggy and I’m not well rested. Walking downstairs, I miss the last step, hit the door and give my body a good jolt. Now I’m achy. I get into the kitchen and realize I’m out of coffee creamer. Ugh! My husband comes downstairs and I’m not so friendly. Yuck, I hate this kind of morning.
One more plug for a good night’s sleep. Studies consistently show that lack of sleep increases irritability, volatility and depression. When we’re missing sleep it is easier to slip into a foul mood. A leader in the field of sleep research states; “The effect of sleep deprivation on mood in the average healthy person is a huge, invisible problem” (Sleepless in America, Kurcinka).
As adults we may have an easier time understanding our emotions or making connections between events, like emotions and lack of sleep. For young children it is challenging enough to try to understand emotions.
Michael went to bed late this past weekend, because his brother had a hockey tournament and events at the hotel kept him awake much later than usual. He slept in, but it wasn’t enough. Monday rolled around and Michael could not keep it together. At breakfast, the bowl for his cereal wasn’t right and he complained. He cried when his shoe fell off and he didn’t want it to, the clothes he put on didn’t feel right. Rather than putting his school supplies in his backpack, Michael started to play with the zipper on it and broke it. He bumped into his sister as he walked by and slammed the front door as he left the house.
The connection may be obvious as I’ve written it here, but often we miss the association. Tired children get into more trouble! Their bodies are so exhausted that they shift their attention frequently to create enough commotion to stay awake. Sometimes their bodies even release stress hormones into their system to keep them more alert. This unfortunately causes them to focus on everything in their environment, rather than just the important things. They tend to fumble and stumble, and act more impulsively. Michael doesn’t need consequences for his behaviors; privileges taken away or scolding, he needs a good night’s sleep, not just once in a while, but every night. When children are frenzied and out of control, it is important to recognize that a little more sleep can be a miracle cure” (Sleepless in America).
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Sound sleep improves relationships and changes behavior for everyone. Make sleep a priority!