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The Importance of Sleep for Children

Posted by Lauren Juarez on

The Importance of Sleep for Children


Every creature on this earth requires sleep. During early development, sleep is the primary activity of the brain. Like many other things, circadian rhythms, or your sleep and wake cycles, take time to develop. Circadian rhythms are regulated by light and dark, but don’t really begin to develop in babies until they’re about 6 weeks. Luckily, by three to six months, most babies have their sleep/wake cycles down. By the age of about 2 or so, most babies have spent more time asleep than they have awake, which equates to approximately 40 percent of their childhood. Sleep is imperative for children as it has a direct impact on mental and physical development. The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. For children, the consequences of not getting enough sleep are dire and farther reaching than we may realize. Convincing your child(ren) that they need sleep, however, is no easy feat. Below, you’ll find 10 answers to give the little ones when that dreaded “why?” stage begins.


1.  It Gives Their Bodies Time to Recoup and Recover

Sleep is the time when our bodies restore themselves, cells regenerate, and muscles rebuild. Without sleep, their bodies aren’t getting the downtime they need to remain active and limber. Simply put, it helps them to be stronger. 

 



2.  It Allows Their Brains to Organize Information

While scientists still don’t truly know all the happenings that take place in our brains while sleeping, research indicates that storing, sorting, and filing away of information, memories, and experiences may be one of the main functions our brains perform during sleep.



3.  It Helps Regulate Their Emotions

Anyone who has spent time with a tired toddler knows that even the sweetest of children can turn into a finicky, and prickly, little devil if they don’t get enough sleep. Being overtired makes children, and adults, cranky, irritable, and grumpy, making it difficult to control their emotions and everyday actions.



4.  It Helps Them Flourish

Scientists haven’t yet proven the connection between sleep deprivation and stunted growth, but they have learned that there is a connection between sleep and the release of the hormones responsible for growth. Getting enough sleep allows their little bodies to produce the proper amount of chemicals and hormones at the right time to help them grow up healthy and strong.



5.  It Protects Their Minds

Research has shown that there is a possible link between ongoing sleep issues in childhood and mental health problems, like depression, anxiety disorders, and drug/alcohol abuse, later in life.



6.  It Strengthens Their Body's Defenses

Getting enough sleep boosts their immune systems, making your child(ren) less likely to catch that nasty cold that’s going around school this week, and more likely to overcome it more quickly than their peers who aren’t sleeping well/enough.



7.  It Helps Them to Form and Maintain Friendships

Just like emotional regulation can suffer when we’re deprived of sleep, our relations with other people do as well. A recent study showed that children who display aggressive behaviors, or bully other children, are simply not getting enough sleep. Help your child(ren) develop their social skills and ensure that they’re getting enough sleep.



8.  It Safeguards Their Health

Other studies have been done concerning the potential link between lack of sleep and gaining weight. Not getting enough sleep may be a huge factor in weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues, both in childhood and into adulthood.



9.  School is Cool

Being tired can shorten your attention span, make you less able to accumulate and process new knowledge, cause struggles with critical thinking, and can also interrupt the storing and retrieving of information from our memories. Each of these things is a critical factor of learning and children who don’t get enough sleep won’t have access to the mental facilities needed to learn the basic skills they’re being taught.



10.  Hello, Energy!

While scientists are still unsure about how energy and sleep are related, the cause and effect is easy enough to see in children. When they aren’t getting enough sleep, they become lethargic. Serious issues can arise if they’re active in sports, extra-curricular activities, or other pursuits that require a sustainable supply of energy.