So I’m reading a new book, surprise! NutureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. OMG, it is amazing! I was going on and on about it to Bycemaster last night when he ever so politely says, why don’t you blog about it? Was he getting sick of hearing about it? Possibly. Was he very kindly and politely asking me to stop? Probably. Was he right? Definitely!

Every chapter so far has been amazing. Last night was the sleep chapter, I was ironically staying up late to read. But it was so fascinating, and validating! (See kids, mommy DOES know what she’s talking about!) When they studied elementary students they discovered just one hours difference in sleep a night resulted in a two grade level reduction in performance, 2 grade levels! Here’s the quote “a slightly sleepy sixth=grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.” Sleep deprived kids also had problems with impulse control, concentration, emotional stability, and were more likely to be obese. To quote the authors again “The surprise is not merely that sleep matters – but how much it matters, demonstrably, not just to academic performance and emotional stability, but to phenomena that we assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the international obesity epidemic and the rise of ADHD.” Wow.

After a number of melt down incidents we had over here last week and then our discovery that said incidentor (like that new word, Bycemaster would be proud) had been getting up an extra hour earlier all week, this totally rang true. It truly was a complete regression in “cognitive maturation and development,” which is really frustrating when you know how old they are supposed to be! It’s possible this experience could be exponential in adults…just throwing that out there. I mean you can see it right? It could explain A LOT. Just speculation people!

However, the fact “that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine” (I haven’t quoted someone so much since my college paper writing days!) is not speculation. Ok excuse my nerd out here, but they actually explained why this is happening and I must at least attempt to pass it on (you really need to read this book people!). So our brain processes and stores the information from the day while we are sleeping. How the person feels about a memory determines what part of the brain processes it. Your amygdala processes your negatives memories/events and positive or neutral stimuli are processed by your hippocampus. But when you get too little sleep the hippocampus suffers first and hardest. Leaving you with a brain full of negativity and little capacity to even add anything neutral or positive to the mix the next day. The situation is compounded for kids due to the different quantities of sleep stages they have at night. The surly teenager stereotype is beginning to make much more sense. I mean I know what I was like as a teenager, I wasn’t nicknamed ice princess for nothing. I was also sleeping 6 or less hours a night for years. My already existing plan of enforcing naps in my teenagers has now been set in stone.