The Importance Of Sleep

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Post  on Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:57 pm

Lack of sleep blights pupils' education
By Sean Coughlan,
Full article can be read HERE on BBC.

"Sleep deprivation is a significant hidden factor in lowering the achievement of school pupils, according to researchers carrying out international education tests.

It is a particular problem in more affluent countries, with sleep experts linking it to the use of mobile phones and computers in bedrooms late at night.

Sleep deprivation is such a serious disruption that lessons have to be pitched at a lower level to accommodate sleep-starved learners, the study found.

The international comparison, carried out by Boston College, found the United States to have the highest number of sleep-deprived students, with 73% of 9 and 10-year-olds and 80% of 13 and 14-year-olds identified by their teachers as being adversely affected.

In literacy tests there were 76% of 9 and 10-year-olds lacking sleep.

This was much higher than the international average of 47% of primary pupils needing more sleep and 57% among the secondary age group.

Achievement gap

Other countries with the most sleep-deprived youngsters were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, England, Ireland and France. High-performing Finland is also among the most lacking in sleep.

Countries with the best records for getting enough sleep include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Japan and Malta.

The analysis was part of the huge data-gathering process for global education rankings - the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

These are among the biggest international benchmarks for education standards, based on tests taken by more than 900,000 pupils in primary and secondary schools in more than 50 countries and regional administrations.

The rankings of results for maths, science and reading were published at the end of last year, with Asian education systems dominating the top of the tables.

But the researchers also wanted to find out more about the influence of home life. There has been much analysis of the impact of family wealth and poverty, but the Boston College researchers also wanted to measure factors such as sleep and nutrition.

So the tests were accompanied by questionnaires for teachers, pupils and parents about sleep patterns. And this information was compared with pupils' test results, so that the performance in maths, science and literacy could be compared with levels of sleep.

Brain food

"I think we underestimate the impact of sleep. Our data show that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading. That is exactly what our data show," says Chad Minnich, of the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center.

"It's the same link for children who are lacking basic nutrition," says Mr Minnich, based at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College.

"If you are unable to concentrate, to attend mentally, you are unable to achieve at your optimal level, because your mind and body are in need of something more basic.

"Sleep is a fundamental need for all children. If teachers report such large proportions of children suffering from lack of sleep, it's having a significant impact.

Serious barrier to learning

It isn't only that young people are kept awake by messaging their friends or using the internet. The light from the screen, held close to the face, is physically disruptive to the natural onset of sleep.

"Having a computer screen that is eight inches away from your face is going to expose you to a lot more light than watching a television on the opposite side of the room," says Karrie Fitzpatrick, sleep researcher at Northwestern University in Illinois.

"It's going to tell your brain to stay awake," says Dr Fitzpatrick.

"That light can reset the whole circadian rhythm system and say, 'Wait a minute, it's not time to go to bed'."

Lack of sleep is also a serious physical barrier to learning.

"Sleepiness is a problem at all stages that are relevant to learning, memory and academic performance," says Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey.

Research into sleep disorders and brain function has shown the importance of sleep in memory and consolidating information.

Without sleep, the brain struggles to absorb and retain ideas.

"There is a growing interest in the associations between adequate sleep and academic performance," says Prof Dijk.

'Loss can be reversed'

Dr Fitzpatrick says lack of sleep is going to leave pupils more emotionally volatile, more potentially disruptive and physically struggling to learn.

And she says that the loss of sleep and short-term attempts to catch up can cause further and complex disruptions to the way the brain tries to store information.

But there is good news. If you start getting enough sleep on a regular basis, the loss to learning can be reversed.

"As long you haven't gone into extreme sleep deprivation, if you go back to seven to nine hours per night, as long as there has been no permanent damage, you can probably restore the functionality of accumulating, processing and being able to recall memories," says Dr Fitzpatrick.

"The basis of learning will likely be restored to normal levels."

Otherwise trying to study without sleep is going to be tough. "Your brain is running on empty."
End of quote.

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Post  on Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:07 pm

Recommended sleep times

According to the National Sleep Center:

Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years):  11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5):  10-13 hours
School age children (6-13):  9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17):  8-10 hours
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+):  7-8 hours

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Post  on Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:25 pm

Effects of Sleep Deprivation.

The effects of sleep deprivation according to Wikipedia are:

  • aching muscles
  • confusion,
  • memory lapses or loss
  • depression
  • development of false memory
  • hallucinations
  • hand tremor
  • headaches
  • malaise
  • stye
  • periorbital puffiness ("bags under eyes")
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased stress hormone levels
  • increased risk of serious disease
  • irritability
  • nystagmus (rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement)
  • obesity
  • seizures
  • temper tantrums in children
  • yawning
  • mania
  • symptoms similar to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • symptoms similar to psychosis

The following conditions are also linked to sleep deprivation and /or excess caffeine:

Central Sleep Apnea

"Central sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This condition is different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can't breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea." (source)

The brain controls breathing.

"A respiratory control centre at the base of your brain controls your breathing. This centre sends ongoing signals down your spine and to the muscles involved in breathing. These signals ensure your breathing muscles contract (tighten) and relax regularly. This allows your breathing to happen automatically, without you being aware of it." (source).

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which an individual, either during falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inability to move, speak, or react.

It is a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by an inability to move muscles. It is often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations to which one is unable to react due to paralysis, and physical experiences. These hallucinations often involve a person or supernatural creature suffocating or terrifying the individual. Another common hallucination type involves intruders (human or supernatural) entering one's room or lurking outside one's window, accompanied by a feeling of dread.

Sleep paralysis was widely considered the work of demons, and more specifically incubi, which were thought to sit on the chests of sleepers. Various forms of magic and spiritual possession were also advanced as causes." (Wikipedia)

However, we now know that sleep paralysis is medically explained.

Sleep Clinic:

"Sleep paralysis is the state of being unable to move or speak as one transitions from sleeping to wakefulness. This can occur at two different times:

As one is falling asleep (hypnagogic or predormital form).

In most cases of sleep paralysis occurring as one is first falling to sleep, the condition is often associated with the sleep disorder narcolepsy. During this time, as the body relaxes and begins to enter the stages of sleep, the mind remains conscious, aware that sleep is occurring, but unable to react through movement or speech.

As one is waking from sleep (hypnopomic or postdormital form).

This is the most common form of sleep paralysis without other sleep disorder comorbidities.

During sleep our bodies go through five 90-minute sleep cycles alternating between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). You spend approximately 75% of your sleep time in the 4 stages of NREM in which the body relaxes, repairs and regenerates tissues, builds muscles and bones, and strengthens the immune system.

During REM sleep brain activity increases and most people experience dreaming. During this time, voluntary muscles become paralyzed (atonia) as a response to keep our bodies from acting out our dreams, and possibly harming ourselves or our bedpartners.

Sleep paralysis occurs when people awaken before the REM stage has been completed, leaving them conscious of their surroundings but still unable to move or speak until the REM cycle has been completed. The inability to move often leaves the person in a vulnerable state leading to them becoming panicked as a response to their vulnerable condition. During these episodes many sufferers of sleep paralysis experience auditory and visual hallucinations, which are manifested from the brain activity still being in REM sleep (where dreaming occurs). The panic from feeling vulnerable caused by paralysis coinciding with the sleep cycle still being in REM stage, attributes to the manifestations of threatening hallucinations." (source)[/i]

The main cause of Sleep Paralysis is sleep deprivation and overuse of caffeine. (source)

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Post  on Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:22 pm


The general consensus is that 350mg of caffeine per day is the safe upper limit for a healthy adult (see more).

Brewed coffee contains around 160mg of caffeine (source).

An instant coffee contains around 57mg of caffeine (source).

Tea contains around 40mg of caffeine (source).

A can of Cola or 100g bar of chocolate each contain about 40mg caffeine.

So, by my calculations that's about two brewed coffee per day, or six instant coffee, or eight cups of tea /coke.

Research also indicates that caffeine can negatively effect your sleep quality if used up to six hours before sleep.

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Post  on Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:33 pm

Restless Leg Syndrome

Worth mentioning here is Restless Leg Syndrome.

Restless Leg Syndrome is an unbearable urge to stretch and move the legs /feet while attempting to fall asleep.
More HERE.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is a related, often accompanying disorder causing involuntary movements of the feet /legs while falling asleep.
More HERE.

A severe case of 'Periodic Limb Disorder' looks something like this:

Both Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb movement can be caused or worsened by excess caffeine (or caffeine too close to bedtime), and possibly iron /b12 deficiencies.

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