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Sleep…seems like a boring subject, huh? But actually it’s really interesting! Most animals and birds have to sleep – some at night and some during the day! For example:
Just like a car that needs petrol to keep on driving, our bodies need sleep to gather up the energy we need for the next busy day. Where do you like to sleep? Do you have a bed time routine, or do you fall asleep on the couch watching TV? Do you sleep in a room by yourself or do you share it with others?
Your body and your brain need sleep to help them grow, heal and develop. That’s why babies (who are growing and developing really fast) spend so much time sleeping.
Your brain needs sleep to…
Have you ever been worried about a problem and then gone to sleep and woken up the next morning feeling better about it, with some new ideas about what you could do?
Your body needs sleep to…
Lack of sleep can cause you to be grumpy, emotional, hyperactive and/or have trouble paying attention in school.
For some kids life can get pretty busy, with school, sport, after school activities, visits to friends and homework. It can sometimes be hard to get enough sleep!
Experts say that school age kids need between 10 and 12 hours sleep a night. Does that sound about the amount of sleep you are having? If you are having less sleep than that, what do you think stops you from getting enough sleep?
During the day, while you are running around with your friends, doing things with your family, playing, eating or learning stuff at school, your body is pretty busy.
At night when you sleep, your body and brain are busy too, getting sorted for the next day, growing and healing. It’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to sleep so that they can get on with the job!
Sleep and the sun
Sunlight helps you know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. As the sun goes down and it gets dark, your brain makes a chemical called melatonin which makes you feel sleepy. When the sun comes up in the morning your brain turns the melatonin off so that you wake up, ready for your day.
That’s why it’s important to have a dark room to sleep in (a night light is ok if you really need it), because you don’t want your brain to get confused and not know whether it should be helping you get sleepy or not.
The sleep cycle
While you are asleep you move between being lightly asleep (which is when you dream), deeply asleep, and waking briefly. This cycle of sleep happens all through the night.
When some kids wake, they are able to snuggle down and go straight back to sleep (they probably won’t even remember that they woke up in the morning) but others might need some help to settle down again. They might even run into their parents’ bed and need to sleep with them.
How is it for you? Do you wake in the night and need help to get back to sleep or do you sleep right through?
Some people have trouble sleeping at night and this can cause problems for them during the day – they might be irritable, have trouble concentrating, feel sad, get into fights with family and friends or even fall asleep at really inappropriate times (like in class or on the bus).
If this happens every so often, it’s usually not too much of a problem. But if it happens to you a lot and you are noticing that it is causing problems during the day, it would be a good idea to make sure that whoever looks after you knows what is happening, so they can help you sort it out.
What makes going to sleep harder?
Lots of things make going to sleep harder, like:
What makes going to sleep easier?
Everybody dreams every night, but we don’t always remember our dreams. They are usually about things that you are worried or excited about, and even sometimes about things that you are really hoping for. Dreaming is our minds way of sorting through things that have happened to us during the day to try and help us make some sense of them.
Dreams can be fun and exciting – like when you dream you are flying, riding a horse really fast or seeing someone that you miss – but they can also be scary. Scary dreams or nightmares don’t usually happen very often but when they do they can leave you feeling upset and worried, even though you know that what happened was just a dream. What do you do if you have a nightmare? How do you help yourself feel better?
Do you remember your dreams? If you do, do you share them with your family? It can be fun when you get up in the morning to tell each other the funny or interesting things that you dreamed about during the night!
This topic was reviewed in July 2015.
There are no references in this topic.