The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is a wonderful thing, it represents a time of rest and reset, a time to escape the world, a time when your toddler is napping, and the house is quiet for a moment in time. The amazing part of sleep is that it not only helps our mental state but helps our brain as well. Especially for children, sleep is this magical time where their brain gets to grow and learn.
When children get good sleep, they are more prepared to play, learn, listen, focus, and do so many amazing things. This is why infants and toddlers sleep so much, they are learning and growing every single day at such a fast rate.
Good sleep is considered to happen when children they reach delta waves, which is where REM sleep occurs. To better understand this, I’ll go into the different brain waves we have go through to reach REM sleep.
There are 5 different brain waves that we move between on a regular basis based on the needs of our environment.
High beta: this is the highest/fastest brain wave we reach. When our brains are in high beta, we tend to be anxious and/or agitated.
Beta: this is when both our body and brain are active. For example, being in gym class and counting by 2’s while doing jumping jacks.
Alpha: at this brain wave, our body is calm, but our brain is active. This is the optimal learning state.
Theta: Our bodies and brains are calm; this is when our creative “ah-ha” moments happen. These brain waves typically occur right before we fall asleep.
Delta: this is the slowest brain wave we reach, and likely the most critical. During this time, we enter a deep sleep, or REM.
Our brain is like a muscle that is constantly working while we are awake. Like all muscles, our brains need time to recover. This recovery occurs when we sleep. During this time, our brains are restocking on neurochemicals which helps our brains learn and grow. This process is called neuroplasticity, which is a process that occurs throughout the lifespan. Neuroplasticity is how babies learn how to walk, and how some people are able to re-learn how to walk after having a stroke.