Dr Seigel, a Psychiatric Professor at UCLA, did a study on the neurotransmitter hypocretin. Hypocretin was believed to only regulate sleep. (In narcolepsy patients there is a deficit of hypocretin and this is why they can almost fall asleep standing up). But, with this new study it was found that it also “governs emotions, particularly joy and happiness”. In effect, it has the specific function of keeping people awake for joy and pleasure. As expected, there was an increase in hypocretin during waking, but surprisingly the maximum release was when people reported being very happy.
So what does this mean when we are trying to get our baby to have a nap or go to bed at night? Every sleep consultant will tell you that there has to be pre-nap and pre-bedtime routine. This time is used to calm your child, (by way of a story, rocking, or singing, for example), and let him know it is indeed time for sleep. This study shows that we can’t be outside having fun with them one minute and then expect them to go right to sleep the next.
But even without the findings of this study, don’t we all want and need those special quiet moments with our babies and children?