Children have a very active lifestyle mainly because they are in a stage of growing up and wanting to explore many things. Since their bodies are still changing, sleep plays a vital role in making sure that their muscles and tissues get to develop well every day. New born babies spend most of their time sleeping from 12 to 18 hours a day. As they move up a few months until the turn 1 year old, their bodies adjust to fewer hours of sleep. Pre-schoolers need up to 13 hours of sleep overnight especially that this is the stage where they do not want to take afternoon naps anymore. Ages 5 and up should have at least 10 hours of sound sleep every night.
There are 2 alternating states of sleep that occurs in every child’s sleep cycle.
The “quiet” sleep or Non-Rapid Eye Movement is when you are in a slow-wave deep sleep. At this level, the brain tells our muscles to relax and our hearts & breathing to slow down. This is the stage when energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occurs, and hormones essential for growth and development are released.
The “active” sleep or Rapid Eye Movement is when our brains become active due to the dreams we produce. This is the period that follows the deepest stage of sleep. Our heartbeat and breathing becomes irregular during active sleep.
When you become a parent, you will realize that sleep directly affects your child’s mood in addition to a big impact on their intellectual development. Based on recent pediatric studies, sleep also contributes to the health and well-being of growing children. It is important as getting kids to eat healthy and get adequate exercise. Getting enough sleep every day lowers the risk of obesity and acquiring diabetes. Scientific research has proven that our brain cells help detoxify of bodies while we sleep.
Here are 5 reasons for promoting proper sleep routine for children.
- Sleep stimulates growth.
Growth hormones are naturally secreted during NREM which is probably why babies involuntarily spend most of their day sleeping.
- Sleep affects weight.
New born babies have many ways to signal mothers if they are sleepy. Most often than not, they cry. This is why studies and coaching for parents have emerged in order to identify the difference between sleepiness and hunger in babies. This type of training can establish healthy sleeping routines as early as a few months old.
As kids grow older, they become more active and therefore, eat more food than usual. Lack of sleep causes a moody and cranky baby throughout the day. Studies show that when children are tired, they tend to crave for foods high in fat and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, they are unable to burn these calories because they don’t have the energy to use them.
- Sleep boosts the immune system.
Proteins called “cytokines” which helps fight stress and infection are produced during sleep. Studies have proven that children who get less than 8 hours of sleep a day get colds and flu more often. During such illnesses, the body becomes so sleepy that we are forced to rest. Sleep helps strengthen the body’s ability to heal.
- Sleep improves attention span.
Behavioral disorders are prevalent at school age. Professionals have recognized inadequate sleep to be similar to the symptoms of ADHD. Most parents are more likely to report the hyperactivity and distractibility of their children to be ADHD than just a cause of sleep deprivation. Kids with ADHD are more vulnerable to the effects of insufficient sleep. However, tired kids can also be distracted and impulsive even if they do not have ADHD.
- Sleep enhances learning.
Sleep improves learning in kids of all ages. This is why complete overnight sleep and short naps throughout the day are important. Studies have shown that children who have regular sleeping patterns and who get enough sleep have sharper memory, more attentive and brighter than other kids who don’t.
With the continuous evolution of electronic devices, parents are having a harder time putting their kids to sleep. Parents’ busy work schedules also affect the bedtime routine of their kids. The effect of getting sleep at the right time and for the right number of hours is as important to adults as it is to children. Hence, parents should make a better effort in promoting good sleeping habits for the whole family.