Sleep is an important part of our routine but often overlooked part of our lives. Getting adequate sleep will allow our body to repair itself and ensure that we stay healthy and recharged with each good night’s sleep. The benefits of sleep include boosting our immune system, helping to prevent weight gain and strengthen our heart. We all know it is important, but do we know why is it important for our children and how does a lack of sleep affect them?
Firstly, children need to sleep in order to grow and it plays a critical role in their brain development. When your child is sleeping, it will lead to chemical processes that take place in their brain and other areas of their body that need to be restored. Furthermore, human growth hormone is released, this will help to rebuild your tissues and prepare your body for the next day.
Secondly, sleep has an important effect on growth, especially in its early infancy. It seems that napping is necessary for toddlers for memory consolidation, executive attention and motor skill development. Sleep also has a direct effect on happiness, children who get sufficient sleep are shown to be in a better mood and overall have better mental and physical health.
How does insufficient sleep affect your child?
Certainly a lack of sleep can affect children in many different ways.
Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, irritability, difficulty in paying attention and poor memory retention. Moreover, They will be more likely to make poor decisions and have a hard time focusing in school. It will affect the brain’s ability to compile and remember what was learned in class. However, insufficient sleep doesn’t just affect school work, but it can also affect their health.
Jessica Brown, DO, MPH, a board-certified expert in pediatric sleep medicine at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health in Louisiana says that too little sleep can also increase a child’s risk for health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, and diabetes. It can also affect your child’s mental health, especially teens who are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
How long should your child sleep?
It varies based on age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours
- Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
- Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
- Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours
What should I do to help my child sleep better?
Start prioritising your child’s sleep. Giving your child early bedtime is a good way to help them reduce their sleep debts. You can help them develop healthy sleeping habits such as establishing a good bedtime routine for them. Their bedtime routine should include relaxing activities such as singing them lullabies and reading them a bedtime story. Ensure that they have regular bedtimes and wake times.
In addition to a sleep routine, the next thing you can do is to create an ideal sleep environment for them. In other words, their bedroom should be quiet and dark. It should also be clear of blue light from televisions, computers or phones.
Above all, don’t be afraid to consult a sleeping consultant if you need more professional help and guidance. If your child is facing sleep issues and you need a simple 5 steps system, check out my baby sleep packages to see how I can help you or book a FREE 20 mins discovery call with me so I can address any of your concerns before you decide to embark on this coaching program.