If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
Different Organs Face Different Challenges, Have Different Vulnerabilities and Different Resiliencies
The liver is uniquely capable of recovery, but chronic damage can cause permanent harm.
“The liver has a unique capacity among organs to regenerate itself after damage. A liver can regrow to a normal size even after up to 90% of it has been removed. But the liver isn’t invincible. Many diseases and exposures can harm it beyond the point of repair.” https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/cells-maintain-repair-liver-identified#:~:text=The%20liver%20has%20a%20unique,beyond%20the%20point%20of%20repair.
“The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse (drinking too much) over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate. This can result in serious and permanent damage to your liver.”https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-related-liver-disease-arld/#:~:text=Each%20time%20your%20liver%20filters,permanent%20damage%20to%20your%20liver.
The brain has a unique need for sleep and may have a limited ability to recovery from chronic sleep disruption.
A 2022 paper, “Neural consequences of chronic sleep disruption”, discusses how, in adult humans, chronic sleep disruption can lead to protracted recovery of neurobehavioral performance and how, in animal models, chronic sleep disruption causes incomplete recovery, including nerve cell loss in some brain areas. The severity of nerve cell injury caused by chronic sleep disruption varies with the duration and type of sleep disruption and the age at which sleep loss exposure occurs.
“Effects of sleep loss on the developing brain: Chronological age at the time of sleep loss exposure may also influence neural responses. Studies in animal models indicate that younger animals may be more vulnerable to the neural effects of sleep loss, and under certain circumstances can develop lifelong impairments.”
Some of the following accounts of how disrupted sleep might cause permanent brain damage are based on animal studies that might have not be relevant to humans. Also, the following accounts of how disrupted sleep in children are associated with subsequent adverse neurobehavioral consequences might be coincidental associations and not causal. That is, some common, but unrecognized, factor might cause both sleep disruption in young children and adverse outcomes later.
Nevertheless, parents should not assume that disrupted sleep in their child is harmless (Blog Posts 99 and 100). In fact, the point of view that more sleep or healthy sleep is beneficial for everyone has a solid scientific basis. Insufficient sleep degrades the brain’s function. Insufficient sleep negatively affects not only cognitive performance, but emotional and social functioning. The more sleep the brain gets, the better it functions. (Blog Posts 1–5).
(To be continued)