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.
The benefits from healthy sleep and the harms from unhealthy sleep are described in Blog posts 1–5. The focus is on brain health because the brain is the only organ in the body that has a requirement for sleep. But unfortunately, brain health is an unappreciated public health concern (Blog post 38).
There is evidence to suggest that the harm to the brain from unhealthy sleep is reversible (Blog Posts 48 and 66) just like having a few alcoholic drinks on a single occasion only temporarily alters brain function. On the other hand (Blog Posts 50 and 51), it is possible that the harm to the brain from unhealthy sleep is irreversible just as repeated head trauma causes permanent brain damage as in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In addition to the question whether unhealthy sleep causes reversible or irreversible harm is the question of how to measure unhealthy sleep and how to measure the harm caused by unhealthy sleep. This issue is further complicated because the harm from unhealthy sleep may be apparent or hidden.
Apparent versus Hidden Harm
“Poor diets are likely to cause both immediate issues [Apparent Harm] such as poor school performance and long-term health problems like osteoporosis [Hidden Harm]. Adolescent girls aren’t getting enough of a host of important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, calcium, folate and iron. About 80% of adolescent girls consume less calcium a day than recommended, according to a report produced by a federal committee that provided recommendations for an update to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in December. And about 20% of girls are anemic, a condition that can be caused by low iron consumption and can affect cognitive function and mood (emphasis added).” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2021.
(To be continued)