Do you want to know why you’re more snappy and not in such a good mood when you’re tired, when you’re sleep deprived? Well, it’s all to do with how the brain works.
I’m going to explain this to you and also look at how this can impact your child and for the long term as well. This is why it’s so important that you’re getting your sleep. So stay tuned and we’re going to go through this.
Okay. So first of all, those feelings of shortness or snappiness, and just being irrational that comes when we’re tired, is because we are going to pretty much operate entirely from our limbic brain. Now our limbic brain is like the quick reactor, it’s an emotional reaction.
I love the way Professor Steven Peter’s calls it the Chimp. It’s like the road rage kind of brain. And it’s the bit that jumps to react. It’s there to protect you because it’s there to jump in and save you sometimes, but it’s an emotional response, as opposed to our prefrontal cortex or our computer or rational human brain, which does the thinking and processes the logic, and usually serves us better in the long run.
But we, as human beings are a little slower to get there. This bit works faster than that bit.
So when we’re tired, that’s even worse. It’s amplified because where this bit will respond 20 times faster than that part of our brain, our irrational brain, our emotional brain will respond faster than our rational brain, and when we’re tired it’s even worse.
So this is why we often say, and as parents we’re really familiar with, the concept of take a deep breath and count to 10. It’s really good advice because by taking a deep breath and counting to 10, you’re actually giving your rational human brain a little bit of time to catch up and take control of the situation, rather than letting the emotional, responsive area of your brain do the reaction.
But just bear in mind, as I say, when you’re tired, this is harder to do. This is why we have more irrational thoughts when we’re tired, we’re more emotional when we’re tired, all kinds of things are more difficult when we are tired.
Now that’s us, that’s all of us, as adults, but just imagine this on a child. Children operate from their limbic brain most of the time anyway, they’re just not quite there yet. They’ve got a lot to learn to really master that. So when they’re tired, I just think of it like a million chimps running around if you’ve got tired children.
So what can you do to help them and to help you? Sleep. You need more sleep. It’s actually really damaging for a little one to not get that sleep they need. So if you’re sat there thinking, oh yeah, they’ll get it eventually, I never got taught to sleep and I can sleep fine, so I’m sure they’ll figure it out in time.
But what if the damage is done by then? And how can you avoid that? Because the studies have actually shown, looking at six year olds in actual neuro development, mental experiments, we have seen that they struggle with more hyperactivity.
They are more impulsive and they have poorer cognitive development at age six, because of short amounts of sleep or inadequate sleep when they were a toddler, about two and a half years of age.
So please don’t wait or think that it doesn’t matter because it really, really does.
And learning to sleep well, not only has immense numbers of health benefits, neural pathways are formed. Everything your little one is learning, all that stuff they are soaking up like a sponge.
And by the way, the brain will act more like a learning sponge if it’s well rested in the first place. But all that stuff they’re learning is going to go from their short-term memory and get filed away into their longer term memory, and that all takes place in sleep.
So a child who isn’t getting that sleep is suffering in ways that you can’t see, or maybe you can’t see yet. And if you feel like your child is very emotional or hyperactive, or has difficulty in social situations or gets labelled as naughty or difficult, a lot of that could be resolved just through healthy sleep.
So for an all round healthier and happier family, so that you feel rational and you feel level-headed and in control, so that you’re healthy inside, you’re immune system’s good, so that you’re happy and so that your child is having all those benefits too, then look at their sleep, look at how we can best address that, and let’s set them up for the absolute best possible future.
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