Every parent has heard the familiar groan of their child at some point around a certain time of night. It’s the time of night that every kid dreads. The time of night that ends all the fun brings the end to another great day of being young. That’s right; we’re talking about bedtime.
Getting your kid to bed at the right time every night can be a struggle, but it’s a necessary struggle. Sleep is important for everyone, but it is especially important for children. So much goes on in their developing bodies while kids sleep; getting a good night’s sleep can have positive effects on their growth, weight, health, and learning abilities.
For these reasons, it’s worth battling your kids and being the bad guy when your kid wants to stay up for “just five more minutes!” Read on to learn more!
Sleep Promotes Growth in Children
Your body does some of its best work when you’re sleeping. For children, sleep is an important factor in their growth. This complicated process happens when a protein hormone is secreted to stimulate growth in the blood, organs, muscles, and bones of a child.
This growth hormone, called somatotropin, is released while a child is in its non-REM sleep stage. This means that if a child lacks proper sleep, they are not getting enough of this growth hormone. Lacking this hormone can ultimately lead to stunts in growth and development
Babies can sleep anywhere from 10.5 to 18 hours each day around the clock. A young child typically spends 40 percent of their childhood sleeping. School-aged children, about ages 6-13, usually need 9 to 11 hours of sleep. If that doesn’t speak for the importance of sleep, it’s hard to say what does. It is during this time that children are growing and developing.
Sleep Helps Children with Weight and Health
Due to an increase in pediatric obesity, scientists have been looking further into the causes of weight gain. Believe it or not, bad sleep patterns in children may have something to do with it. Studies have shown that lack of sleep is related to a greater risk for obesity. Not only that but going to sleep late at night, in general, has been linked to obesity and being overweight.
Throughout the last several years, the rate of obesity in children has grown along with the trend of less strict bedtimes and hours of sleep at night. Kids grades 1 to 5 should be getting 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Instead, that number has dropped down to an average of about 9.
As with the growth hormone, several other hormones are released as a child sleeps. Two of these hormones are leptin and ghrelin, which have to do with hunger and appetite. A lack of sleep messes with the balance of these hormones and leads children to partake in more snacks and crave unhealthy foods. This unhealthy food intake is a huge contributor to obesity.While a lack of sleep can push kids to indulge in unhealthy eating habits, it can also deter them from participating in physical activity. When a child doesn’t engage in some form of physical activity, their body can put on weight.
Additionally, studies have shown that napping is not a solution to this problem. A child needs the proper amount of sleep throughout the night.
Sleep Helps Children to Learn and Be More Productive
Concentration is key when it comes to teaching a child. If a child has trouble paying attention and focusing in school or on homework, it may be harder for them to grasp concepts and keep up with their peers.
A good night’s sleep has been shown to improve a child’s ability to concentrate and remember. When a child doesn’t get the proper amount of sleep, they may go to school feeling tired in the morning. A sleepy child will have trouble paying attention and retaining information. Their concentration has been interrupted by their need for more sleep.
Your child’s sleep patterns may also determine how reliable and useful their memory is. When we sleep, our brain works through our memories and strengthens them. When your child is sleeping, his brain is moving and storing memories and preparing for new memories. A lack of sleep disturbs this process and makes it harder to pull new information to the front of their brains.In addition to your child’s learning, their behavior may also be positively impacted by better sleep. Tired children are often cranky and are less likely to listen to authority, like the authority of a school teacher. For this reason, they may get into more trouble or miss out on extra-curricular activities due to their bad attitude. This can impact their overall learning and development. If your kid is struggling with behavioral issues in school, maybe it’s time to change up their nighttime routine.
Sleep Helps Children’s Immune Systems
Healthy sleep habits are important far beyond just making sure your child isn’t sleepy and cranky during the day. Getting the proper number of hours of sleep each night as well as maintaining a consistent routine can actually strengthen your child’s immune system.
Due to a child’s heavy involvement and interactions with other people (i.e., school, sports, daycares, playdates), they come into contact with all the germs, viruses, and bacteria you can think of. This is why it is very important to ensure their immune systems are in top functioning condition.When a young child doesn’t get enough sleep, there is extra stress put on their body. This stress weighs on their immune system and weakens it, making them more susceptible to illnesses. When a kid doesn’t get enough sleep, their body doesn’t function properly. This includes the immune system. If your child is getting sick a lot, it may have something to do with their sleeping habits and routines. Try switching things up and see how it affects their health.
Sleep Helps the Child’s Heart
As we have already seen, sleep greatly affects your child’s overall health. More specifically, though, sleep can help your child have a healthier heart – especially those who suffer from heart conditions.
As a young child sleeps, vital parts of their body are developing. This includes significant organs such as the heart and lungs. Hormones released while sleeping promote the development of muscle mass and tissue repair.
Additionally, children who have a kind of heart condition present in their bodies tire and wear out more than other kids. This requires them to be extra concerned about getting a good night’s sleep. The development, repair, and restorative qualities of sleep can be vital to their heart conditions.
As sleep affects aspects of life such as weight and energy, it goes hand in hand with the heart. Children who have extra weight put extra stress on their heart during physical activities.Sleep also regulates how the heart works at night. Throughout the different stages of sleep, the heart is performing different actions. To maintain steady and healthy heart movements, the proper sleep schedule is required. For example, during Non-Rapid Eye Movement, the heart is pumping an increased amount of blood to the muscles. During other cycles, heart rates are regulated in certain ways.
Sleep is very important to a child’s overall health and daily activities. It is not something that should be taken for granted or ignored. In fact, it will be well worth it for you and for them in more ways than one. Achieving a consistent and proper sleep schedule for your child will have many positive effects on their health, their weight, their immune system, and their ability to learn.