Lack of Sleep?

Sleep needs chart

Cat amongst the pigeons time. How much sleep do your kids need? What are the benefits of good sleep and what are the side effects of lack of sleep? What relationship does sleep have to the ability to concentrate? All of this and a bucket full of ADHD. What a recipe. (Image taken from a BBC webzine article here)

Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am not an expert in the fields of sleep, sleep deprivation, ADHD etc etc. Neither, according to the feature picture, is my daughter getting enough sleep. This concerns me but I will make my excuses later.

First up, an interesting article from the New York Times which asks whether attention problems are sleep related. Read the article here. The article claims that sleep deprived children “…often become wired, moody and obstinate; they may have trouble focusing, sitting still and getting along with peers”. It continues to make a relationship (based on research) between sleep disorders and ADHD concluding that “The children were significantly less likely than untreated children with sleep-disordered breathing to be given an A.D.H.D. diagnosis in the ensuing months and years.”

Part of the ADHD explosion is due to the inability to say no, according to an article on the Psychology Today website here. The article compares the French and American definitions, treatments and preventative measure pertaining to ADHD. It’s well worth the read because it reminds us that our actions or inactions as parents affect our children in so many ways. What is interesting is that the French define ADHD as a social disorder and America defines it as a clinical disorder. The French treat with counselling and therapy, America with chemicals. The article relates the ability to self-control with the lower percentages of ADHD, but we mustn’t ignore the fact when comparing numbers of ADHD diagnoses that the French have a much smaller scope for defining ADHD.

I found myself in disagreement with a researcher on another website (Linkedin’s Childhood Bilingualism group) who is researching the possible relationship between ADHD and a preference for second language usage. I have never been a fan of ADHD as a classification of behaviour, or as an excuse (but like I say I’m no expert) and tend towards the French model. She wrote “…ADHD has been linked with distinctive changes in the prefrontal cortex, particularly in the right inferior frontal cortex, which also houses Broca’s and Wernike’s area. This area of the brain has been identified as responsible for response inhibition, motor control, and other executive functions. Research has also indicated that, in terms of bilingualism, this is the area of the brain where language switching takes place.” She very kindly shared her reading list and I will have a go once I get a little free time (ha ha).

Finally, the BBC article whose picture I used. If you missed the link at the beginning then here it is. One expert is quoted as saying “Children in particular are affected by sleep deprivation,” says Mr Dijk. “At that stage in life we accept how the lack of sleep has an impact on behaviour and mood.” How the prevailing mood is interpreted would seem to depend on where you live, but I think we can all agree that sleep deprived people (young or old) just don’t concentrate as well.

In our little family, the morning practice has become the bedrock of my daughter’s English education. We don’t have much time to play with, so we need to use it well. Sadly, she spends more time at nursery than with her family. It has been that way since she was two. She gets picked up at 6pm. After dinner she plays for a little, takes a bath, watches one short TV program, has a story and goes to bed at 9pm. It’s later than I would like but still earlier than many of her peers (an interesting piece of research here on sleeping habits in young children in Japan states “The prevalence of bedtime resistance was described to increase in the first 5 years of life from 14% during infancy to 50% at 5 years of age”. This may not be limited to Japan, but it is very common for parents in my host country to let the kids stay up late) I really need my daughter to be receptive to noticing and learning new things in the morning. To do this I believe she needs a good night’s sleep.

I would be very interested to hear how much sleep your little ones are getting and whether you reach the same conclusions I have done about the adverse relationship between lack of sleep and the ability to concentrate. Make your mark on the poll below or leave a comment.


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6 responses to “Lack of Sleep?”

  1. Stephen Greene says :

    I have a two-year-old and my wife has been concerned at his lack of sleep since pretty much the word go. At the moment he generally sleeps about 10 hours at night and then has a nap of between 1 and 2 hours at around lunchtime. There are exceptions, for example yesterday he slept for nearly 12 hours during the night and then didn’t have a nap at all.

    I am not overly worried at the moment. It is obvious when he is cranky and needs a sleep, and he has even started asking to go to bed when he thinks he needs to.

    I am, however, jealous at all the sleep opportunities he gets!

    • teachthesprog says :

      Roger that! What I wouldn’t give for 9 hours unbroken slumber. Sadly my cat thinks daybreak is a great time to lick my toes 😉
      This has been the subject of more than one arguement in my house. Cultural differences clash sometimes. Thankfully I am blessed with a partner who can listen as well as talk.

  2. teachthesprog says :

    I would give a night’s sleep to have the sprig read me a story in English at bedtime as she did for her mum in Japanese just now!

  3. Chris Drew says :

    Sleep – perchance to dream!

    Our sprogs are a bit older now (8 and 10) and we try to enforce a curfew on school nights – 9 into bed. But both love to read, and we don’t really enforce “lights out”, so it can actually be quite a bit later. I’ve tried to set a rule on how much of a book can be read before sleep before now, but with little success.

    Alice (sprog the elder) is currently reading Wildwood

    well, devouring is more the case – only arrived yesterday, but 300 pages out of 500 read!

    Charlotte (sprog the younger) is reading Calvin and Hobbes

    and both were still reading at around half past ten last night. Both know that reading is the one area where they can twist me around their little fingers 🙂

    I saw and commented (a bit) on your discussion on Linkedin. The difference with France is quite interesting – I seem to remember (but could be wrong) that the French have a high level of anti-depressents. Interesting we don’t go the chemical route for ADHD. The other interesting thing is that I could not (without the aid of some sort of dictionary or wikipedia) tell you what ADHD is in French – and it’s not as if I don’t mix with enough of the locals that it shouldn’t have come up in conversation if it was an ‘issue’.

    Our cat is also a 4am up with the lark moggy – she is currently in summer mode as in “you’re sleeping outside!” 🙂 – and she also has to be bilingual as well 😉

    • teachthesprog says :

      Those sleep patterns are the same as upper primary school kids in Japan. The older they get, the later they get. Well, we deal with it as it comes I suppose.
      It’s hot as hell here in Nagoya now, and every family in our apartment block has their windows open so we get to hear what everyone is doing. At ten or even after each night I can still hear kids, even toddlers, playing about and as much as I think it’s nice to have a family that enjoys time together I still think its too late.
      If you google ‘sleep Japan’ the most hits you will get are links to sites talking about how families sleep in the same room and how people sleep on trains and busses. Train sleep is Japan’s coping method for a busy life it seems.

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