News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin
While there may be some debate about the “wealthy” claim, recent research suggests Franklin was correct about the “healthy and wise” assertions.
Lack of sleep can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, researchers now believe that the quantity and quality of sleep impacts memory and learning. It is well known that a sleep-deprived person cannot focus well and therefore cannot absorb and process information efficiently. The new finding is that information must be consolidated into a memory during sleep.
Scientists break learning and memory into three basic components: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquisition is the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation is the process of making a memory stable and recall is the ability to access the information later. Acquisition and recall occur during waking hours and memory consolidation takes place during periods of sleep.
Although we do not know for sure how sleep makes consolidation possible, researchers believe that the brainwaves of different types that occur during sleep are what form lasting memories.
Since consolidation is imperative for memory, one of the most important things a parent can do for his/her child is make sure he/she gets adequate sleep.
Here are a few things that can be done to increase the odds your child is getting adequate sleep:
- Reduce screen time – Some research suggests that the light emitted from electronic devices increases alertness and keeps children from sleeping well. Establish a device free period before bed.
- Offer the right food – Whole foods that combine protein and complex carbohydrates are the best before bed snacks.
- Encourage exercise – At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week improves sleep.
- Control the environment – Consistent temperature and a clean environment support high quality sleep.
- Unplug electronic devices – Electrical fields given off by appliances (TVs, cellphones, etc.) can interfere with melatonin secretion. Even if devices are off they emit electrical fields, so it is best to unplug them.
- Eliminate light – Light can affect immune system function and sleep, so it is best to reduce light in the bedroom.
- Establish a routine – Establish a pre-bed routine so your child is in bed on time.
Perhaps a few extra hours of sleep each night is a better way to ensure amazing childhood memories than a camera.