Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Sleep Is Important for All Ages ; EVANSVILLE'S DR. MOM

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Sleep Is Important for All Ages ; EVANSVILLE'S DR. MOM

Article excerpt

I am not a morning person. Even as a child, when all my friends were rising at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, I was happily snoozing away until noon. Unfortunately, the real world can be a hard place for night owls. It seems as if most of the world is controlled by those unbearably perky sunrise worshippers, so I learned to progressively adapt to 8 a.m. college classes, 7 a.m. medical school courses, and 6 a.m. hospital rounds.

Of course, nothing quite forces you to become a morning person like parenthood. Having a newborn really teaches you the importance of finding time in your life to sleep, no matter when.

Infants and parents are not the only ones in the house to need a good night's rest, however. Research supports the benefits of healthy sleep for older children and teens as well.

Sleep is defined as a reversible state of unconsciousness, a temporary disengagement from the environment. Once thought to be a passive condition, sleep actually is a dynamic process with specific physiological changes.

Temperature and blood pressure drop during deep sleep, while heart rate, breathing patterns, and brain wave activity vary throughout different phases of the sleep cycle.

Some organ systems have decreased function during sleep, but other important metabolic tasks, such as growth hormone release, are increased. If it appears as though your child seemingly grew taller overnight, he probably did.

Sleep plays an important role in our physical and mental health. Ongoing sleep deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Effective immune system response to illness also is linked to adequate sleep.

Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, impulse control, problem-solving and other facets of cognitive functioning. Poor sleep has been associated with depression and other emotional disorders.

Older children and adolescents have specific sleep concerns. Most teens require about 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal daytime functioning (middle school kids need a bit more), but because of a number of factors, including homework, sports, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and a cornucopia of electronic devices, a large percentage of teens fall short of the recommended hours of shut-eye. …

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