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What happens when we don't get enough sleep?

What happens when we don't get enough sleep?

A lot about what we currently know about sleep comes from our understanding of what happens when we don’t get enough sleep, or when we sleep poorly.

Sleep deprivation has serious effects on our brain and body’s ability to function. Further, given that the first five years of life are so important for the development of the brain and the body, a lack of sleep for young children can have especially significant ramifications.

The effects of sleep deprivation for young children can include the following:

Increased risk for obesity:

  • Increased hunger and caloric intake
  • Altered thermoregulation (process of maintaining core body temperature)
  • Increased opportunity to eat
  • Increased fatigue and reduced energy expenditure

flowchart depicting the implications of sleep deprivation and its relationship with obesity (Click to expand)

Physiological Health and Wellbeing:

  • Impaired immune system
  • Increased risk of diabetes and stress
  • Impaired growth and development

Behaviour and Emotions:

  • Negative behaviours such as aggression, hyperactivity
  • Tendency to be less sociable and withdrawn
  • Negative feelings such as depression, irritability, anxiety and stress
  • Negative self-thoughts or a lack of self confidence
  • Poor judgement and perception of events

Cognitive Abilities and Performance:

  • Difficulty planning
  • Poor organisation skills
  • Lack of concentration and attention
  • Reduction in creativity and problem solving abilities
  • Increased reaction times

Learning and Memory:

  • Limited ability to focus attention optimally
  • Impaired memory and performance
  • Difficulty learning and processing new information
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Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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