The Effects of Sleep Deprivation


Many adults suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation due to sleep disorders, hectic schedules, stress, and various other reasons, but did you know that 60% of America’s children don’t get enough sleep?

Most of us know first hand that sleep deprivation can make you irritable, tired, have less focus, a lower frustration level, and exhibit behavior that’s more emotional and impulsive, but the more sleep studies that are done, the more we begin to realize that the vast repercussions of sleep deprivation…

It was recently discovered in a sleep study at Tel Aviv University, that children’s ability to learn was seriously impaired by even the slightest amount of sleep deprivation. In fact, one study group was able to improve on tests assessing attention span and memory by almost 2 grade levels just by adding an hour of sleep!

Another recent discovery revealed that many children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD were actually suffering instead from chronic sleep deprivation. According to sleep specialist, Stanley Coren, sleep deprivation leads to a temporary loss in IQ levels, reasoning and memory, and even makes kids a little hyper. As if that isn’t enough, scientists also suspect that chronic sleep deprivation in children may also impair growth and development.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco examined the effect of sleep on brain plasticity in young cats and discovered that sleep dramatically enhances changes in brain connections during early development. They found the amount of plasticity (connections between nerve cells) in the brain depends on the amount of deep sleep. (The type of sleep a person falls into when they first go to sleep.) Marcos G. Frank, Ph.D says, “This is the first direct evidence that sleep modifies the effect of environmental stimuli on the development of new brain connections.”

According to Mark Mahowald, professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, “Any amount of sleep deprivation will diminish mental performance. One complete night of sleep deprivation is as impairing in simulated driving tests as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level.”
On the other side of the coin… with adequate sleep, motor skills are improved about 20 percent because the brain during the 6th and 8th hours of sleep acts on calcium molecules to preserve motor skills newly acquired through practice.

Sleep deprivation at any age can impair metabolism, immune functions, and motor skills, increase stress hormones, and cripple sugar metabolism. School-aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep a night, teenagers need 8½ – 9 hours, and adults need 7- 8½. It’s important that parents recognize the signs of sleep deprivation.

Some of the signs to look for are as follows:

  • Can’t fall asleep 15 to 30 minutes after going to bed.
  • Can’t wake up easily in the morning.
  • Can’t remain alert and awake all day.

Establishing good sleep habits is imperative for the healthy development of children. The National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute offers the following tips for parents to help get their kids to bed:

  • Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading him or her a story.
  • Avoid giving children a big meal close to bedtime, and no caffeine within six hours of sleep.
  • Make after-dinner playtime relaxing; too much exercise close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • Keep the noise level down and the bedroom dark. If some light is necessary, use a small nightlight.

Creating a Positive Environment for Your Child’s Emotional Development

Every child is a unique and special individual, but how he or she learns to react to life’s daily events is highly dependent on both what they observe in their environment and how they learn to understand and manage their own emotions. The following are suggestions to help promote positive developmental surroundings for your child:

Allow Your Child to Become Aware of Their Own Feelings


A good example is a child learning to take their first steps… They will inevitably take a few spills. If a parent panics and goes into a frenzy at every tumble, the child will learn to react to the fall like it’s a horrible thing, regardless of whether they got hurt or not. From here on out ANY fall is a bad fall. This learned behavior continues and creates a tearful outcome to every bump and bruise. A parent then faces a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario… never really knowing if a child was hurt or not. A better parent reaction would be to allow the child to express whether or not they were hurt first and then respond accordingly. Now, the child has learned how they themselves felt about the fall and whether or not it merited a good cry.

As the child gets older and begins to have their own opinion, let them know that it’s perfectly fine to have tastes that are different than yours. For example, you can’t stand country music, but your five year old says they love it… you certainly don’t have to say you love it too, but you can tell them that it’s perfectly fine if they love it, and how great it is that they have their own opinion. Children seek endless approval from their parents. If approval’s only received when they agree with the parent’s opinion, they won’t be learning the valuable lesson of thinking for themselves later. Permitting a young child to express their personal tastes lays the foundation for teaching them to trust and acknowledge that their own opinion is just fine.

Be Aware of Your Own Issues and Don’t Pass Them On


Babies are born with a clean slate. We, on the other hand, have most likely developed personal “issues” about something or another. Issues can range from mild quirks to major difficulties, but an awareness of the “issue” can help keep things in check when we’re parenting.

Since, we’re a society inundated with food issues, we’ll pick that one for a common example to deal with… The golden starter rule for this one is, “Baby Knows Best.” Feed them when they’re hungry, let them stop when they’re full. This keeps the child in-touch with their needs and satisfactions and establishes eating habits they’ll carry with them to adulthood. (This is also the recommended feeding method by the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1997.)

Positive Environment

On the other side of the spectrum… According to nutritionists from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, parents who are too controlling with their children’s food prevent children from taking natural cues for hunger, which can lead to “hoarding, stealing, and secretly eating food later”… a definite set-up for a life long weight problem.

This doesn’t mean that if your child has a pediatrician confirmed weight problem, you sit by and let them eat whatever they want whenever they want, as you would an infant. Quite the contrary, steps must be taken to establish more positive eating habits… less goodies, more fruits and vegetables, better sized portions etc. The key is making those changes without emotionally burdening the child. Changing what foods are available in the house removes much of the “oh no, you can’t have that” dialogue. Continual comments regarding food or appearance, can translate to the child as, “I’m not OK” and a poor self-image has never helped to improve anyone, child or adult.

Everyone’s personal issues are different… perhaps it’s fear of water, abandonment, or bad relationships… whatever the issue, just try to stay aware that your fears and hang-ups belong to you alone and make a conscience effort not to project them onto your children.

Your Reaction is Their Reaction

Children gauge their reactions accordingly. If you’re OK with something, they’ll be OK, on the other side of the coin, if you’re troubled, they’ll be troubled too. Now, we may be parents, but we’re still human, and yes, there are going to be times in life where we are legitimately troubled, but how you cope with those times is what makes the difference.

Also, it’s important to be aware that even if you are coping with adversity gracefully on the outside, children are naturally intuitive and will still sense something is wrong. If they ask about it and you answer, “nothing’s wrong,” children will not only feel confused, but begin to doubt their own instincts. Even more damaging, they may believe the parent is unhappy or upset because of them. So stay honest with your kids… let them know they’re right… you are having a tough time (no need to burden them with all the adult details – give them a kiddie version), then, assure them that the tough time will pass. Now, you’ve taught the lesson that there are ups and downs in life, that their feelings were right, and they are certainly not the cause of the “tough time.”


When we see our children expressing kindness, gratitude, and compassion, nothing makes us more proud and quite honestly we’ve earned that pat on the back because children reflect our behavior. The other side of the coin is, hard as it may sometimes be to acknowledge, when we see our children behaving rudely, greedily, or obnoxiously, they very well may be reflecting our behavior too. This is the “Right Back At Ya” parenting lesson.

Remember the “little pitchers have big ears” saying? That about sums it up… kids see all, hear all. Nothing gets by them. If you’re seeing behavior you don’t like in your kids, it’s always good to take a look in the mirror and make sure you haven’t unintentionally set the example for it yourself.

Yes, the “Right Back At Ya” can either be the harshest or most rewarding parenting lesson of them all, so heed the warning signs early.

“Parenting is an ever-evolving art form… there is no “perfection,” only the ability to continually strive each day to be better at the job.”

Little Mermaid, Spongebob, and Care Bears with a Side of Porn

A Warning to Parents:
Children exposed to explicit images while searching for MySpace decorations.


Kids looking for hearts and flowers for their MySpace pages are being subjected without warning to images of porn, drugs, and alcohol. Even more disturbing, many of these explicit images are viewed along side of popular cartoon characters and cute pictures of little animals.

During a routine survey of web traffic trends, discovered that one of the most popular web searches was looking for backgrounds, layouts, and graphics to decorate MySpace pages. We entered “myspace backgrounds” in Google and were shocked to find that each of the top 10 sites found by the Google search contained or linked to explicit content.

The sites contain photos and animations of naked people engaged in various sex acts including bondage, numerous graphics of drugs, alcohol, and vulgar language. Little Mermaid and Lion King’s Simba next to a thong model on a bed. A cute little puppy avatar sandwiched between the Pillsbury Doughboy pointing a gun with the quote “B**ch” above his head and a cartoon penis with a lewd caption. Power Puff girls and My Little Pony graphics under backgrounds themes of marijuana plants.

Some of these sites had the initial appearance of being as innocuous as the search term used to find them… Why would a parent have any concern about their child looking for a Hello Kitty avatar for their instant message or question which site their child found the butterfly background on for their MySpace page?

Until now, these sites have existed under the radar of parents and the law. (It’s unlikely Disney, Warner Bros., or Nickelodeon would give licensing rights that include having their characters pictured next to porn.)

How can something this appalling be so rampant? These sites make money from web traffic and with searches registering in the millions for MySpace graphics, any site placing on the first page of a Google search is sure to pull in the big bucks and evidently few have qualms about exploiting children in the process.

How to Cringe Less When You Hear the Words: What’s for Dinner?

family food

Grown-ups, does уоur fаmіlу really hаvе tо еаt еvеrу day?

I dоn’t knоw about уоu but mу fаmіlу ѕееmѕ tо thіnk thеу аrе supposed tо eat EVERY DAY! Yоu would think I wоuld gеt оn bоаrd wіth thіѕ idea аnd actually plan оut what I was gоіng to mаkе. Aftеr bеіng married fоr аlmоѕt 15 уеаrѕ (Oсtоbеr), I still dоn’t hаvе a ѕуѕtеm fоr meals/menu planning. Why іѕ thіѕ? Wоuld it rеаllу rеduсе my ѕtrеѕѕ whеn thе kіdѕ аѕk, “Whаt’ѕ for dіnnеr?”


Why hаvе I rеѕіѕtеd fоr this lоng? Mу nature has me rebelling bеfоrе I hаvе еvеn thought of thе ѕіtuаtіоn, thіѕ hарреnѕ іn all аѕресtѕ of mу life. Sоmеоnе tells me, “Yоu ѕhоuld wash уоur сlоthеѕ еvеrу wееk.” Instantly I’m thіnkіng, “NO, I shouldn’t! I should dо whаt I wаnt! Yоu саn’t bоѕѕ me аrоund!”. But whаt if…

Whаt if wе соuld dеvеlор a ѕіmрlе mеnu рlаnnіng system that would reduce оur ѕtrеѕѕ, inform еvеrуоnе whаt’ѕ fоr dіnnеr & еvеn save us ѕоmе саѕh at thе ѕtоrе? Wе wоuldn’t hаvе to tеll аnуоnе thаt we developed ѕаіd ѕуѕtеm. Hmmmm…

Menu Planning

If wе wеrе tо hуроthеtісаllу dеvеlор a simple menu рlаnnіng ѕуѕtеm, how wоuld we go аbоut dоіng thаt? Whаt if wе ѕеt a timer for 5 minutes аnd ѕtаrt writing all thе mаіn dishes our fаmіlу hаѕ оn a regular basis. Thеn ѕеt іt аgаіn fоr 5 minutes аnd do ѕіdеѕ. Wе’d hаvе a lіѕt оf tурісаl mеаlѕ fоr оur house, аnd wе didn’t hаvе tо оvеr think anything. Alrіghtу! Lеt’ѕ аdd an еlеmеnt of fun. Gаthеr 2 соntаіnеrѕ, cut “mains” into individual ѕtrірѕ аnd рut іntо оnе соntаіnеr. Do the same for thе “sides” and put іn the other container. Nоw have thе kіdѕ сhооѕе one of each and write іt dоwn for еасh day оf thе wееk.

We nоw hаvе a wееk’ѕ/mоnth’ѕ/соuрlе days’ wоrth оf mеаlѕ! We саn then ѕеt thе tіmеr fоr 5-10 mіnutеѕ and wrіtе оut оur grосеrу list. A lіttlе bіt of work, but thе tіmе ѕреnt wіth thе kids may bе wоrth it! Aftеr wе gо tо thе ѕtоrе we’ll have everything on hаnd thаt wе need tо make said mеаlѕ & wе аrе frее to сhооѕе аnу оnе that wе wаnt!

What do уоu think? Do уоu thіnk this іѕ wоrth thе еffоrt? Dоеѕ the timer create mоrе stress оr less stress fоr you? Do уоu hаvе аnу сrеаtіvе іdеаѕ tо ассоmрlіѕh thе same mission оf knowing what’s fоr dіnnеr, having еvеrуthіng on hаnd & mауbе juѕt maybe not cringing еасh tіmе уоu hear, “Ma, what’s fоr dіnnеr?”