Sleep and learning Minna Chau, Ph.D. ABSNP Clinical Child Psychologist Sprout in Motion
Outline • • • • •
What happens when we sleep? How much sleep do we need? Why do we need sleep? Effect of sleep on learning and behaviors Strategies to get enough sleep for your child
Sleep over the life span
FUNCTION OF SLEEP Revitalize and restore • Sleep is essential for revitalizing and restoring the physiological processes that keep the body and mind healthy and properly functioning. • NREM sleep is important for restoring physiological functions, while REM sleep is essential in restoring mental functions • Study showed that students who slept shortly after memorizing two different sets of word pairs had better recall than those who didn’t sleep for several hours (Payne at el 2012)
Repair and restore • Sleep allows the brain to perform "housekeeping" duties. • The brain utilizes sleep to flush out waste toxins. This waste removal system, they suggest, is one of the major reasons why we sleep. • During sleep when risk of infection is low, T-cell counts drop and allow the immune system restores itself for the next day challenge (Besedovsky, Dimitrov, Born and Lange 2016) • Sleep deprived individuals are given a vaccine, there is a lower antibody response and if they were exposed to virus, they are more likely to get the virus. • Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health (Gharib 2017)
Consolidation • Sleep helps cement the things we have learned during the day into long term memory. • People sleep in order to process information that has been acquired during the day • Sleep allows the brain to prepare for the day to come • Preschoolers retained newly learned words after taking naps (Sandoval, Lecierc & Gomez, 2017)
How the Brain Resets during Sleep
Credit: Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness
Consolidation • Study shows the first half of the sleep contains the deep sleep when the brain consolidates facts and figures and new words – For tests required memorization, go to bed at normal time and get up early to study – Do the opposite for musical performance
• Sounds and smells can penetrate deep sleep to enhance memory
Sleep deprivation among children in Hong Kong • Hong Kong children sleep an average of 1.5 hours less than American children • Primary students with 10 hours sleep dropped from 23% to 6.5 % from 2003-2007 • On average, Hong Kong teenagers have 7.3 hours of sleep • The average school-night bedtime was 11:24 pm • The prevalence of sleep disturbances occurring ≥3 days per week in the preceding 3 months were: difficulty falling asleep (5.6%), waking up during the night (7.2%), and waking up too early in the morning (10.4%). • The prevalence of ≥1 of these three symptoms was 19.1%.
Progression of Sleep Problem • Approximately 30% of preschooler experience sleep problems (e.g., bedtime resistance, nighttime awakenings, difficulty waking in the morning) • Early sleep problems commonly persist through childhood & adolescence • Early sleep problem predict later psychiatric illness (e.g., depression, anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity)
The consequences • 28% fall asleep in school at least 1x/week • 22% fall asleep doing homework • 32% too tired to exercise
Impact of Insufficient Sleep in Children and Teens • Health problems: – Insufficient sleep in adolescents increases the risks for high blood pressure and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity – Even in 24-hour short term sleep deprivation, heart function is affected (Radiological Society of North American 2016) – Sleepiness is linked to risk taking behavior and car accidents
Impact of Insufficient Sleep in Children and Teens • Mood problems: – Mood regulation and affect changes: more irritable and less pleasant mood – Sleeping less than 8 hours a night has been linked to a nearly threefold increase in suicide attempts
• Behavioral problems: Aggression, hyperactivity, impulsivity – In study of 510 children aged 2-5, less sleep at night is associated with more behavioral problems during the day
Impact of Insufficient Sleep in Children and Teens • Performance deficits: academic impairment
– Scores on IQ test decline cumulatively on each successive day with less sleep – After 5 successive days of sleeping less, IQ score can be lowered by up to 15 points – Students getting C’s, D’s and F’s grades get 25 minutes less sleep and go to bed 40 minutes later than students with A’s and B’s. – After a high school district in Minn. US shifted school start time by 1 hour, not only the students reported fewer episodes of depressive feelings, their SAT scores of top students rose from 683 math/605 verbal to 739 math/761 verbal a year later.
Impact of Insufficient Sleep in Children and Teens • Social impairment – Sleep-deprived people have difficulty reading facial expressions of anger and threatening – In a UC Berkeley study, participants were well rested, they had no trouble picking up on subtle cues on facial expressions of emotional changes – This ability was impaired when they were deprived of sleep after 24 hours and they continued to rate pictures with less threatening faces as very threatening
Impact of Insufficient Sleep in Children and Teens • Family disruption: – In a study of 47 mothers of children with or without sleep disturbances, – Sleep disturbances in children are associated with maternal depression, parenting stress, fatigue and sleepiness
Get more sleep for your child • Parents are important, no matter what kids say – Studies showed that parental help with limitsetting around bedtimes and study time and media is helpful
• It takes commitment: – Teens are unlikely to change their sleep habits unless they recognize that more sleep will make them feel better and improve their improvement in school and social life.
Be consistent • Get kids to go to bed as close as possible to the same time every night, and get as close to 8 hours of sleep as possible • It’s hard to get back to normal Sunday night if teens stay up late and sleep until noon on weekends
Screens Off ! • Institute an electronic curfew. Screen off one hour before bed • Electronic screens emit a glow called “blue light” at a particular frequency that sends “a signal to the brain which suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps kids from feeling tired. • Social media is a great place to find new sources of anxiety • A free app called f.lux can automatically adjusts the light on computer screen to coincide with the time of the day. • Instead of using the smartphone as an alarm, use a real clock!
Mindful of Snacking • Teens are prone to eating and drinking on erratic schedule as a mean to self-regulate or stay awake • High carbs snacks such as cookies, sodas and chips can all postpone sleep • Instead, they may have healthy snacks that the body take less energy to burn
Boost the biological clock â€˘â€Ż Take low dose (2-3 mg) of melatonin one to two hours before it is time to go to bed to help jumpstart melatonin production
Simplify • Avoids overscheduling • Teens need to understand that they can’t do a 100% of everything • Parents can help them set realistic expectations for their time by sitting down with them budgeting their time on each task before bed. • Nagging doesn’t work in the long run. Your child should learn an internal system to monitor time for bedtime routine.
Set a Good Example • Parents need to model good sleep habits for their children • Make sleep a priority for themselves and their children that is a part of living a healthy lifestylelike eating right and exercising regularly • It is not an optional activity that can be scarified • Sleep is a vital biological function, not a waste of time
Streamline Mornings • If your child has enough sleep, he should be able to wake up on his own. If he needs constant assistance to get him out of bed, the bedtime has to be earlier. • Showering, picking out clothes and packing up books before bed • Prepare an egg sandwich to eat on the bus • Use a preferred activity to motivate your child to complete morning routine faster if this takes too long.
Sleep Hygiene • The bed is for sleep! – Easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if associate the bed with sleeping – Leave electronic device outside the bedroom – Study in another room – Talk on the phone about homework and study instead of messaging can be more productive – Dim light after dinner to prepare the brain for sleep
Don’t go to bed angry
• Try to avoid arguing or discussing upsetting issues in the evening – Even if you’re really worked up over something, let it go until – You and your child or teen will sleep more soundly for it
Your child didn’t get the memo: Educate them! • Post a memo on the bathroom mirror stating: – You’ll be happier – Mommy and Daddy will be happier. – You’ll do better at school. – It will be easier to be kind to others – Others will find it easier to be kind to you. – Tomorrow will be nicer – You’ll run faster, jump higher and have more fun. – Research shows: Better night = Better day