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Sleep (Part 1): Why the psychologist is so obsessed with the time my child ISN’T awake!

Sleep (Part 1): Why the psychologist is so obsessed with the time my child ISN’T awake!

Most of us intuitively know that a full night’s rest is a good thing but when your child’s psychologist spends 10 minutes of a 50-minute parent interview asking…

What time Billy goes to bed?

What time does Billy ACTUALLY go to sleep?

What time does Billy wake up in the morning?

And how often does Billy come into your bed with you?

We may start to wonder what EXACTLY is it that is so important about Billy’s sleep…

The truth is… this is no short answer.

Research has told us that a good night’s sleep has countless benefits.

Our shut-eye time directly impacts on our cardiovascular system preventing heart attacks and stroke, it enhances our metabolic system averting diabetes and weight gain, it boosts our immune system helping us to fight infections, and it heightens reproductive health and gene/ DNA stability.

But all this stuff is happening below the neck…

Billy’s psychologist is really interested in the stuff that happens above the neck… the stuff that happens in the brain.

After dark is the time when the brain delivers its real bang.

Sleep enhances our ability to learn, to remember, it improves our capacity to make rational decisions and choices, and it is intrinsically connected to our mental health, giving our brains time to process social and emotional challenges, to learn and to build on those brain circuits that help us manoeuvre around future crises effectively.

Sleep is not just about being not-conscious and it is certainly not just about resting, there is a whole hive of industry going on during those forty winks.

Sleep (Part 1): Why the psychologist is so obsessed with the time my child ISN’T awake!

Cognitively speaking:

· Sleep time is when the hippocampus, brain’s short term memory store, gets cleared out ready for the next influx of information.

· Sleep is at the centre of learning, it takes care of our memory retention, consolidating and moving memories from the hippocampus to longer term stores in the brain’s neocortex.

· Sleep helps us to forget too. It’s when our brains sorts and decides what information to retain and what not to … so that useless information like where you parked your car the last 20 times can be discarded.

· Then, have you ever slept on a problem, only to have the answer seem obvious in the morning? That’s because during sleep, the brain connects immense amounts of information through multiple processes of trial and error and then builds links between effective connections to solve that problem we just couldn’t figure out last night, effectively unleashing a degree of creativity that wouldn’t be possible by our conscious minds.

No post on sleep will ever be exhaustive and this one is about highlighting the positive things we gain from good sleep.

There is also the other side… what happens when sleep hygiene is poor, including why Billy can’t seem to concentrate in class, or why he just can’t seem to separate from you at the school gate.

But seeing as the average person spends about 26 years sleeping and 7 years just trying to get to sleep, it’s safe to say you can expect to see more posts on the topic!


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