If you google just about any health ailment or nagging symptom, sleep deprivation will be on the list of possible causes. Why is that? Because people are just too (potentially dangerously so) busy and plugged in to sleep these days. When we do sleep, we don’t sleep well.
From small children to retirement age, our lives are jam packed with structure and technology, leaving no (or very little) down time. If you ask a retiree, they will most likely tell you one of the most enjoyable things about retiring is the ability to nap when you want.
What can you do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep to ward off sleep deprivation? Start by unplugging yourself, literally and figuratively, at least four hours before your bedtime. Instead of focusing on the screens of a television, game console, computer or cell phone, shut them down. Read a book, cook and savour a nice meal, or go out for a drink or meal with a friend or loved one. Sans the phone.
This applies to your children too. Remember, you are their most influential teacher. They will pick up your unhealthy habits just as easily as your good ones. They do need routine in their lives, but organized structure not so much. Kids also need down time instead of being shuttled from event to event.
Sleep deprivation shows up in their behaviour and their health. Research has shown that overly active (organized) kids tend to suffer from anxiety, which in turn leads to poor quality of sleep. It is very easy to cut back on their organized activities. Let them play at home with their siblings and parents. Bring back the board games of our youth. Encourage older kids to read books or experiment in the kitchen. Simply slow down their lives, especially before bed time.
Think of your brain as a computer that controls your body. Even the best computers need to reboot or update regularly to stay efficient and healthy. Similarly, every cell in your body, especially those in your brain, needs down time to repair and recuperate from everything we throw at them. They can only do that when we sleep. When we don’t provide these cells with quality sleep to perform this maintenance on a regular basis, sleep deprivation sets in and cells start to break down, causing all those symptoms you are googling about.