We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is recommended… and even helpful and ideal… but it is SO hard to make that a priority! Getting enough rest is essential for so many body systems to function in the proper way. Not enough sleep doesn’t just make us feel tired and groggy, it can impact our physical health and healing.
“Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH.
Benefits of good sleep:
- Sleep helps you think more clearly,
- Have quicker reflexes
- Allows for better reasoning, problem solving and attention
- Allows for a “reset” of the nervous system
- Be less stressed – lack of sleep can increase the level of stress hormones in the body
- Adequate sleep can be a pain killer – it can reduce the impact of pain on the body and allow for faster healing.
Lack of sleep influences:
- Tired people tend to be less productive at work or school.
- Greater risk for heart disease and stroke
- Immune system performance
- Your mood, which can affect how you interact with others. A sleep deficit over time can even put you at greater risk for developing depression.
But sleep isn’t just essential for the brain. “Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies,” says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at NIH. “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.”
Lack of sleep is even being looked at as a cause of diabetic like conditions or other health conditions including obesity.
Sleep is important for everyone, but a lack of sleep can impact everyone differently. Sleep is especially important for those with special needs. A lack of sleep can exacerbate any of the person’s current symptoms. This could mean an increase in tone, aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, seizures, or increase in sensory processing difficulties.
When a patient comes to therapy and has not slept well, they do not get the most out of their therapy session. They may be more task avoidant, less engaged, or less able to participate to their fullest potential. This lessens the positive effect of therapy as more time is spent alerting the patient to keep them engaged, redirecting their behaviors, or facilitating the proper movements.
If your child is having difficulties with sleep patterns, please talk to one of our OT’s. We may be able to assist with identifying calming and regulating strategies that will assist with falling asleep!
Written by: Cassie Whiteaker, MORTL