Happy mornings are a result of a good night’s sleep. This is true not just for adults, but for young children too. Sleep deprivation in kids can have many negative repercussions including poor mental and physical growth.
What role does sleep play?
Sleep is vital for the overall growth and development. Apart from many benefits like boosting memory, improving concentration and learning abilities, new studies show that sleep also aids in flushing out harmful toxins that build up in the brain during the day.
Poor sleep in children under age 7 can lead to weight problems and can have general negative effects on their physical, emotional and social health.
Sleep can also influence the secretion of the growth hormone by the pituitary gland. Several factors affect its production, including nutrition, stress, and exercise. In young children, however, the most important factor is sleep.
Even though the growth hormone is released throughout the day, in kids, the most intense period of release is shortly after the beginning of deep sleep.
How much sleep does your child need?
On an average, toddlers (1-3 years) need 12-14 hours of sleep, pre-schoolers (3-5 years) require about 11-13 hours, slightly older kids (2-12 years) can make do with 10-11 hours, while teenagers need about 8.5 to 10 hours.
Not getting adequate sleep can lead to slowed or stunted growth — as it affects the natural production of the growth hormone. It is also said sleep shortage can affect the metabolism rate.
How to tell if your child is sleep deprived?
One of the ways to tell if your child has not had enough sleep is through her behavior. If she’s crabby, unhappy and irritable when she wakes up or through the course of the day, it’s probably because she has not rested well enough. Apart from these obvious signs, here are others which tell that your baby has not had her full quota of sleep.
- Difficulty in waking up in the morning
- Low attention span
- Lethargic and sluggish behavior throughout the day
- Slow to react
Ways to ensure your child sleeps tight
Like any other daily activity, it is important to follow a sleep routine … and the onus lies on the parents to help children follow it. Here are a few tips that could help your child get a good night’s sleep.
- Establish a consistent bedtime and make sure the children stick to it strictly. Ideally, toddlers and kindergarteners should be in bed by 8 or 8.30.
- Switch off all electronics like TV, computer that would be a distraction to the kids before bedtime.
- Avoid any activity before bedtime that would disrupt sleep routine
- Switch off lights and create a calm and quiet environment. The room does not have to be totally dark as long as its comfortable and secure. Brightly lit rooms can delay melanin release and, as a result, the onset of sleep.
Creating healthy sleep habits will eventually help you – and your child – in the long run. So make sleep a priority and don’t allow your child to compromise on it.