Sleep, it’s a vital human requirement but yet we often cut it out or fail to correct it when it’s not working properly for adults or for our children.
Sleep is a brain function that is stored in the lower limbic system. The ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is a learned process, and therefore can also be unlearned. Whether as an adult or as a child, establishing good sleep habits is important and something that has to be maintained.
If a child continues to wake for a feed or pacifier after 9 months of age this is usually indicative of a sleep problem and should be addressed sooner than later because of the stress it places on the child’s body. Good quality sleep, not just time in bed is critical for learning, memory, regulation of emotion and mood. In the last seven years more than 30 studies on child sleep have demonstrated that poor quality sleep that includes, erratic sleep/wake schedules, fragmented sleep, late bedtimes and rise times are associated with poorer school performances. Lack of sleep is a stress on the body activating the stress response system. Poor sleep habits are being linked to rapid rise in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children as well as adults.
Adults have sleep problems too. Approximate 30% of the adult population reports sleep difficulties and 10% meet the criteria for an insomnia diagnosis. Women, older adults and shift workers suffer from sleep disturbances most predominately. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep at bedtime, waking up in the middle of night with difficulty falling to sleep, early morning wakings, daytime fatigue, cognitive difficulties with attention, memory and concentration. People with insomnia often suffer from mood disturbances such as irritability, sadness and depress. Left untreated many people with insomnia suffer from an impaired ability to function socially, at home and/or at work.
There are huge economic and emotional impacts to poor sleep in a family. A woman is at greater risk of developing postnatal depression if her child continues have age inappropriate night wakes beyond 16 weeks of age. Chronically fatigued adults are more likely to make mistakes, perform worse at work and are at increased risk for driving accidents. Chronic sleep deprivation has the same impact as being drunk on one’s cognitive and emotional senses.
Sleep in adults and children often goes untreated because people think it’s a phase or don’t know how or where to go for help or how to correct it. However, both in children and adults treatment is very effective and results in a much higher quality of life.
For children, it often requires parents being educated on sleep works and then implementing appropriate corrective measure to teach healthy sleep habits. For adults, sleep correction often involves a combination of cognitive therapy, behavioral modification and some life style changes. The outcomes are very good and more effective than sleep pills which can be addictive. All in the Family Counselling specializes in sleep problems for adults and children, contact us to find out how we can help you.
All in the Family Counselling