As crazy as this sounds, everyone needs sleep in some form or fashion. But, why do children need sleep? This may seem like a dumb question. However, it is really important to understand how sleep affects children versus adults.
As an adult, if we skip a few Zzzs at night, we can manage to get thru the next day with some help from our friend “caffeine” or other so-called “pick-me-ups”.
However, It is probably not a good idea to start pumping caffeine into your toddler the morning after a bad night’s sleep.
So, what is the effect that lack of sleep has on your child? Certainly, you are not at your best in the morning after a night of tossing and turning. Therefore, how can we expect our children to be at the top of their game if they don’t get the proper amount of sleep? But, there is more to the story.
You are not alone if your child doesn’t get enough sleep. Did you realize that many parents do not allow their child to get the crucial sleep needed to properly develop their bodies and to function thru out the day?
Studies have shown that the repercussions of sleep deprivation can be noticed after only four nights of one hour less of sleep per night.
Think for a minute how many times do you allow your child to stay up past his scheduled bedtime to accommodate your schedule. For example, your toddler’s normal bedtime is 7:30 pm. It is Friday night and you decide to go out to dinner with your family.
You sit down to dinner at 6:00 pm, dinner takes about 1 1/2 hours because they are busy. After dinner, you need to stop by the store to pick up bread and milk for breakfast in the morning.
You make it home around 8:00 pm, After bath and the normal nighttime routine. It is now 9:30 pm before your toddler heads off to bed. Nothing to worry about, tomorrow is Saturday and he can sleep in.
Saturday morning rolls around and at 6:00 am your toddler is up and running for the day. Why? Because he routinely wakes up around 6 in the morning. Therefore, going to bed later generally does not change the wake-up time.
You have a busy day scheduled because you work all week and Saturday is the only day you have to get some errands taken care of. So, now your toddler skips his daily nap because you are out running around. Sound familiar?
It can be very difficult to recognize all the ways your child’s bedtime is sabotaged. The above is just a simple example of how easy it is for your child to miss his bedtime routine. So why do children need sleep? Here are 5 answers that you might not know.
Sleep produces proteins known as cytokines, you and your toddler’s body rely on these proteins to fight infection, stress, and illness. Therefore, the lack of sleep impacts the production of cytokines.
And, while there have been fewer studies on young children, studies of teens have found that illness is reduced with longer nightly sleep.
Helps Prevent Obesity
Most importantly, this is not an article on weight loss, nor am I promoting that sleeping long hours helps you lose weight. My goal is to answer the question of why do children need sleep. That is to say, there is increasing evidence that children that get to little sleep become overweight.
Penn State Children’s Hospital study has shown that when parents are trained in the difference between hunger and other distress cues and begin to soothe without feeding their babies, they are more likely to be sound sleepers, and less likely to be overweight.
To clarify, fats cells create the hormone leptin, which signals us to stop eating. Sleep deprivation impacts the production of leptin. So, kids will most likely keep eating. The results over time can lead to obesity in your child.
Studies have shown that kids that do not get enough sleep, eat differently than when well-rested. Consequently, Tired children also tend to be more inactive, so they burn fewer calories.
Watch Baby Grow
Have you ever woke up in the morning and thought to yourself that your child seems to grow overnight. Well, you would be correct. Somatotropin or Growth Hormone (GH) is mostly secreted during deep sleep.
Therefore, it is important for your baby to spend about 50 percent of their time in a deep sleep, to ensure adequate growth. This one of the main reasons to ask why do children need sleep. Lack of deep sleep will produce deficient levels of growth hormone.
The Heart needs Sleep
Several studies have proven that sleep protects your child from vascular damage due to circulating stress hormones. Sleep specialist Jeffery Durmer, MD., Ph.D. states that “children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night”.
He also goes on to say in a recent study, “Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night”.
So, it is important to realize that sleep deprivation not only makes your child irritable the next day it could have a serious effect on their health.
Children who sleep fewer than 10 hours per night on a consistent basis before the age of 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulse problems by age 6.
As a result, the symptoms of sleep deprivation and ADHD mirror each other almost exactly. Tired kids can become distracted and impulsive even though they don’t have ADHD.
Studies have shown that school-age kids that get an extra 27 minutes of sleep a night, seem to manage impulse and moods easier.
It is interesting to note, that kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD are three times more likely to have problems falling asleep and or staying asleep than kids who don’t.
|Age||The recommended amount of sleep|
|Newborns (0 to 2 months)||16 to 18 hours (3 to 4 hours at a time)|
|Babies (2 months to 6 months)||14 to 16 hours|
|Older babies (6 months to 1 year)||14 hours|
|Toddlers (1 to 3 years)||10 to 13 hours|
|Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)||10 to 12 hours|
|School-aged children (5 to 10 years)||10 to 12 hours|
The National Sleep Foundation offers guidelines for older children and teens.
|Age||The recommended amount of sleep|
|6 to 13 years||9 to 11 hours|
|14 to 18 years||8 to 10 hours|
The above chart is a recommendation for how many hours a child should get every night.
Consequently, I hope that I have shed some light on why children need sleep. With proper sleep training that starts at an early age, your child will grow to be happy and healthy.
If you have found this information to help or if you have comments to add leave them below and I will respond to them.
This article contains affiliate links