So here’s a taster from the All about Tantrums book, which *will* be out by the end of the year…
It won’t be identical as this is just what I’ve nutted together this morning. It comes from the chapter on Over-Whelmed Tantrums, and analyses one reason why sleep is so important for avoiding them…
Our body and brain systems like daylight, in particular it’s the levels of blue light in the spectrum to which our biological clocks are most responsive. The blue spectrum helps regulate our circadian rhythm and it tells the sleep chemical melatonin to dissipate. If we step outside the door for a few minutes every morning the early morning light is enough of a trigger for our brain systems to change from night time processing to daytime learning. The greater the amount of daylight we have available to us, the more vitamin D is produced, which suppresses the amount of melatonin in our brain. (Sunlight received from behind glass doesn’t count.) Melatonin is meant to be switched off during the day.
We have structures in our brain systems which measure the amount of daylight we have received. One of these is the pineal gland. The pineal gland is stimulated to produce serotonin (contentment) in direct response to the amount of sunlight we have received on any particular day. We need serotonin to make melatonin, so we can sleep properly. The less serotonin we receive during the day from diet and sunlight, the less melatonin we have access to that night.
Crucial to our overall health, melatonin levels help neutralise the most toxic free-radicals our body has accumulated during that day, so ensures body system health. It runs the reproductive and aging cycles. It is implicated in premature death from heart-attacks, cancer and it controls how early we go through puberty and how young we die. It controls our thirst, and our levels of hunger. If we sleep in a pitch black room (can’t see our hand in front of our face) then optimal levels of melatonin are released. (No electronic standby lights, no electronic clock faces, no night lights or lights on in the hallway. Children sleep with us and if they want to go to the toilet in the night, they have a torch handy.)
The work of the pineal gland, in conjunction with serotonin and melatonin, and the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal systems, literally links our mind and body. It is the system which ensures our body and brain system synchronicity. It takes all of the information we provide it and squashes it into mood, experience and memory. All in all, this system is the brain’s brain.
If we are mostly calm, contented and connected to the important people in our lives, then it is a sign this system is working well. If we are mostly tense, easily angered, impatient, hostile, anxious or too ‘nice,’ too ‘pleasant,’ too ‘jolly,’ too quick to put ALL others first, then it is a sign the system is not working well. If we have an Over-Whelmed Tantrum, chances are this system is overloaded.