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Why Sleep Is Important

Why Sleep Is Important

Children who are one or two years old probably need around 14-15 hours total sleep each day.

Teenagers, with their odd late night body clocks, still require 9-9.5 hours on average to function properly. Yet, nowadays, sleep has to compete with the Internet. Kids are now using media for around 7.5 hours a day and they like to multitask. They don't want to give up instant messaging or texting even in the middle of the night.

Dr. Matthew Edlund, an award-winning expert on rest, body clocks, and sleep lays out below the benefits of a good sleep and how you can get enough sleep.

The Benefits of a Healthy Amount of Sleep:

Bullet Better looks. A lot of skin replacement takes place during sleep.
Bullet Better weight control. Sleep less, weigh more. Lots of teenagers are getting less than seven hours of sleep each night. They don't know this can lead to weight gain that will dog them for years.
Bullet Better brains. Brains grow a lot in sleep. Perhaps 30-40% of brain synapses die during puberty, and much of the rebuilding of brain cell connections occurs during sleep (yes, teenagers really are different.)
Bullet Better grades. More sleep, better results in school.
Bullet Better learning and memory. Sleep is required for putting memories in and renewing them.

TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP:

Bullet Make sure there are set times of going to sleep and getting up. Times rules life, and body clocks rule human performance. They work best when you set them and keep to them.
Bullet Allow naps during the day. Kids need naps, including teenagers. Try not to make them too long, so that they won't interfere with nighttime sleep. With children that's hard to do, as they really need a lot of sleep.
Bullet Do what the airlines do ' turn off all electronic devices when going to sleep. If media can be used, it will be used. Do it at least 30 minutes before the time sleep is meant to begin.
Bullet Consider buying a night mask. Night masks can be great behavioural cues to tell kids it's sleep time.
Bullet Get your kids to rest. Sleep is a really complicated process. It doesn't happen like a light switch. You've got to be calm and relaxed to sleep, which many kids will not be. Fortunately, techniques like relaxation can quickly calm children, and there's little like reading to prepare a kid to sleep, the amazing restoration and rebuilding process that makes for a changed, renewed brain, every day.

Dr. Matthew Edlund has identified an ongoing health crisis. After years of clinical research and consultations with hundreds of patients, he discovered that many people aren't just sleep-deprived, they're rest-deprived. The result? Our hearts, minds, and central nervous systems are overloaded, our health is suffering, and we've forgotten what it feels like to be truly refreshed. Too many people today accept sluggishness and fatigue as the inevitable side effects of hectic lives, and believe that there isn't much they can do about it besides squeezing in another hour or two of sleep.

Getting enough sleep is important but it's only one part of a much larger spectrum of rest. The benefits of making time for rest have proven extraordinary: when people engage the body's power to restore and renew itself, they look younger, heal faster, lose weight more effectively, and experience greater joy in their work and their relationships. We wouldn't expect our bodies to function without food and, Dr. Edlund argues, we shouldn't expect to feel fully fueled and alert without rest.

October 2010

Sleep and rest expert Matthew Edlund is the author of: THE POWER OF REST: WHY SLEEP ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH

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