The Importance of Sleep for Childhood Health
Our children live busy and energetic lives; playgrounds, puzzles and books can really exhaust the fast-developing minds and bodies of our little ones. Growing minds and bodies require a healthy amount of sleep in order for proper mental and physical development.
The benefits of good sleep are endless, and a concept that is not new to us since it is equally important for adulthood as it is for childhood. Throughout our lifetimes our sleep remains essential for our overall wellbeing. Sleep for a child can be arguably more necessary and at this time in the life cycle is when sleep is unfortunately the most turbulent.
Did you know, 7 out of 10 children don’t get enough sleep. This inefficiency can wash out into other aspects of a healthy and happy childhood, from increased temper tantrums, a lack of concentration, long term behavioral problems, and several other later in life risks.
So how does rest impact a child?
● Physical Health:
Sleep is restorative, allowing little worn out bodies to repair and rejuvenate. During shut eye the body works to repair tissue, boost muscle mass, synthesize proteins, releasing hormones to promote growth and strengthen immune systems. Children who catch a cold or flu too commonly, can often be a result of sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that sleep and weight management are closely related, young children who experience less than their required sleep for their age are 3x more likely to struggle with obesity in life.
● Mental Health:
Mental health most commonly includes mood, emotion and clarity. As adults we know that when tired, we become prone to crankiness and mood swings, the same applies to children. A lack of sleep affects the way our brains regulate emotions, leading to higher stress levels, amplified anxiety and aggressive tendencies. Sleep does not eliminate stress or anxtyness but it certainly helps little brains cope with these factors of life.
Easy Ways to ensure better sleep.
● Curb the sugar /caffeine:
Sugary snacks before bed can certainly hinder any or all of the good progress you have made in establishing nightime routines with your child. Diet dictates how energetic and active our bodies feel, and without surprise, sugar and caffeine are hyperactive stimulates that steal from slumbers.
● Limit environmental stimuli before bed:
Bright backlit and interactive stimulants are detrimental to bedtime, Screens keep the brain active at exactly the worst moments. Whether your children are using digital devices, playing games or watching their favorite television shows, technology makes it harder for us all to get the rest we deserve. Create positive routines early throughout childhood, limit technology an hour before bedtime and consider an audio book, light music, or a warm bath to onset feelings of relaxation.
● Familiar routines:
Regular sleep times and consistent patterns surrounding bedtime help maintain the body clock and our precious circadian rhythms. Consistencies will make sleep more habitual. Explore relaxation exercises that best fit your child’s tastes and lifestyles.
● Bedside essentials:
Whether it’s a comfort item (blanket, teddy bear, night light) or the necessary bedroom staples (pillow, mattress, bedding) create a cozy sanctuary in a child’s bedroom. This will create help to create a desirable and comfortable space your children want to be in. In turn this will limit those midnight crawls under the covers into mommy and daddy's bed.
● Understand required hours of sleep in relation to age:
Do your best to meet standard sleep requirements. As an adult it is simple to understand 7-9 hours is ideal. Our youngsters daily dozin’ changes almost each year as they progress into their teenage years. In this graphic below, we explore how you can ensure your children get the best possible ZZZ’s as they age and grow: