Sleep is the main component for memory and creativity according to neuroscientist. And therfore of great importance to children’s learning and thinking. Not just mentally, sleep is vital for physical growth as well. During the deep states of NREM sleep, blood supply to the muscles is increasing, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur and important hormones are released for growth and development. The control of glucose level also happens during sleep and its depreviation may put the children at risk for diabetes.
Sleep happens in 4 stages, the first initial stages are very light and the sleeper can be easily awakened during those. The next two stages are deep sleep and it takes a long time for adults to reach it wheras it takes chilren 5 mintues.This is when the brain waves are the slowest. Its is the peak time for growth internally. The last stage is called REM (Rapid Eye movement) its when the brain is most active and body immobile. Dreams occur in this stage.
Lack of sleep causes crankiness, increased stress, forgetfulness, difficutlies with learning and low motivation. Over time, it can contribute to anxiety and depression. Irregular sleep times cause disruption in the circadian rythm of the body which results in late brain maturation. If the sleep quality is poor the child’s behavioral, emotional, conduct and hyperactive problems may worsen. This can all change with better sleep pattern and proper sleep hygiene(habits and practices).
Things stored in short term memory are processed and transferred in long term during sleep. Most learning happens through sleep. Its like everything we have learned gets compartmentalized while we sleep. Our mind retains what is important and discards the items we don’t use or need anymore. Children have a great deal to learn as most skills are acquired during that time.