Dear Sleep – I miss you …

Dear Sleep,

I love you. I really do. I may have fought you as a kid, refused you as a teen. But now I miss you – because you are excellent – and nothing feels the same without you. Now I know why …

New research has found that eight hours of interrupted sleep can be as physically detrimental as sleeping for only four.

Parents, professionals on call, shift workers and students would know the feeling. As would anyone with a weak bladder or anyone in shouting distance of a barking dog. So too would anybody who has been tossed and turned by the hand of some sort of life stress.

Night waking is a pervasive phenomenon for many people.

In a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, researchers have demonstrated that interrupted sleep leads to diminished cognitive capacity, shortened attention span and a bad mood.

Interruptions of five to ten minutes are enough to disrupt the natural sleep rhythm.


 

What They Did

Participants in the study were university student volunteers. Their sleep patterns were monitored using wristwatch-like devices that monitored sleep and awake.

On the first night of the study, students slept for eight hours.

Then, on a subsequent night, they were woken up four times by phone calls and instructed to complete a short computer task of about 10-15 minutes duration, after which they could go back to sleep.

The following morning, students completed a set of computer tasks that measured alertness and attention. They were also asked to self-report their mood.

What They Found

One night of interruptions was enough to compromise cognitive function and mood. Attention and alertness were diminished and people reported feeling fatigued, depressed, confused and lethargic. In fact, the effects were as drastic as if they had only slept for four hours.

No effects were found on anger and anxiety, suggesting that these features of mood are less sensitive to fragmented sleep.


 

In real life, interrupted sleep can continue for many nights on end, sometimes for months or even years. The effects of disrupted sleep accumulate over time.

Researcher Professor Sadeh explained, ‘Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night. But we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents – who awaken three to ten times a night for months on end – pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous. Besides the physical effects of interrupted sleep, parents often develop feelings of anger toward their infants and then feel guilty about these negative feelings.’

Importantly, the findings lend support to previous research that has found an association between child sleep disruptions and maternal fatigue, stress and depressive symptoms.

Sleeping is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It’s cleansing, restorative, keeps you functioning and playing nicely. Anything you can do to keep your zzz’s unbroken will pay you dividends. And if anybody comes up with a way to achieve that with kids, barking dogs, a Goldilocks-ish too hot/too cold relationship with the doona and a completely hopeless love affair with late nights, would you pleeeease let me know.

One Comment

Turenne

In my mind, at this point in time, there isn’t enough time in a day. I tend to skip on sleep time. It’s good to be reminded time again, in such an eloquent article, how good sleep time is for Brain Power.

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The move towards brave doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a shuffle - lots of brave tiny steps, each one more brave than before. What’s important isn’t the size of the step but the direction.

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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #neuronurtured #anxiety #anxietyinchildren
You know who I love? (Not counting every food delivery person who has delivered takeaway to my home. Or the person who puts the little slots in the sides of the soy sauce packets to make them easier to open. Not counting those people.) You know who? Adolescents. I just love them. 
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Today I spoke with two big groups of secondary school students about managing anxiety. In each talk, as there are in all of my talks with teens, there were questions. Big, open-hearted, thoughtful questions that go right to the heart of it all. 
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Some of the questions they asked were:
- What can I do to help my friend who is feeling big anxiety?
- What can I do to help an adult who has anxiety?
- How can I start the conversation about anxiety with my parents?

Our teens have big, beautiful, open hearts. They won’t always show us that, but they do. They want to be there for their friends and for the adults in their lives. They want to be able to come to us and talk about the things that matter, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. They want to step up and be there for their important people, including their parents, but sometimes they don’t know how. They want to be connected to us, but they don’t want to be controlled, or trapped in conversations that won’t end once they begin. 

Our teens need to know that the way to us is open. The more they can feel their important adults holding on to them - not controlling them - the better. Let them know you won’t cramp them, or intrude, or ask too many questions they don’t want you to ask. Let them know that when they want the conversation to stop, it will stop. But above all else, let them know you’re there. Tell them they don’t need to have all the words. They don’t need to have any words at all. Tell them that if they let you know they want to chat, you can handle anything that comes from there - even if it’s silence, or messy words, or big feelings - you can handle all of it. Our teens are extraordinary and they need us during adolescence more than ever, but this will have to be more on their terms for a while.  They love you and they need you. They won’t always show it, but I promise you, they do.♥️
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.' We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us.

 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
Rather than talking to them about what they can’t do (and they’ll probably want to talk about this a lot - that’s what anxiety does), ask them what they can do. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, as long as it’s forward.
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The idea is to gradually and gently expose them to the things that feel frightening. This is the only way to re-teach the amygdala that it’s safe. Let them know you understand it feels scary - they need to know you feel what they feel and that you get it. This will make your belief in them and your refusal to support avoidance more meaningful. Then move them towards brave.
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This can be tough. To move our children towards the things that are causing them distress pushes fiercely against our instincts as a parent - but - supporting avoidance, overprotecting, over-reassuring, the things we do that unintentionally accommodate anxiety over brave behaviour will only feed anxiety and make it more resistant to change. (And as a parent I’ve done all of these things at some time - we’re parents, not perfect, and parental love has a way of drawing us all in to unhelpful behaviours in the name of protecting our kiddos). .
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The point is, moving our children towards brave behaviour can feel awful, but it’s so important. When they focus on the fear and what they can’t do, try, ‘Okay, I know this feels scary. I really do. I also know you can do this. I understand this step feels too big, so what little step can you take towards it? What can you do that is braver than last time?’

 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
We can’t decide the lessons our children learn and we can’t decide when they learn them, but we can create the space that invites the discovery. We can do this by making it safe for them to speak, and to wander around their own experiences so the lessons and wisdom can emerge.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #adolescence

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