Miss Farah

Is Sleep the Most Important Happiness Habit?

Posted on: January 29, 2010


Kids need a lot of sleep to be happy. Unfortunately, studies show that kids are getting significantly less sleep per night than they did in previous generations. This is of no small consequence.

Not getting enough sleep can make kids:

  1. Less smart. In one study, researchers restricted the sleep of some students and extended the sleep of others for about 40 minutes over just three days. Kids who got less sleep showed worse performance in areas like learning, memory, and reaction times. How much worse? The difference between the two groups was “larger than or similar to the highly significant age differences between the fourth- and sixth-grade students” in the study. Losing two hours of sleep over three days set kids back two years.
  2. Inattentive. Sleepiness makes it hard for kids to pay attention, whether to their school work or to their parents. The effects of not getting enough sleep is much more evident in younger children, who tend to be quite distractible when tired.
  3. Fat. Sleep affects dozens of physiological and hormonal processes throughout our bodies, like how we store fat and burn calories. Kids who are “short sleepers” are more likely not just to be fat, but to actually be obese.
  4. Less creative. Sleep helps kids with verbal flexibility so that their speech is more articulate and creative. Decreased sleep can make them less fluent, and it can impair their thinking in ways that make them less imaginative and less able to problem solve.
  5. Moody and ill-behaved. I think this is obvious to every parent of every child who has ever missed a nap, but loads of good research backs this up: not getting enough sleep can make five year olds act like three year olds—miserable three year olds, to boot. Substance use, including using caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, is greater in teens who sleep less, indicating that they are trying to cope with how they feel when tired.

Ensuring that your kids get enough sleep is your responsibility as a parent.

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2 Responses to "Is Sleep the Most Important Happiness Habit?"

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