Why Is Sleep Important For Kids – Here Are 7 Great Reasons!


Why is sleep important for kids?

There are so many reasons, but today I want to talk to you about 7 big ones!

We now know that it’s important for children to have healthy diets and get plenty of exercise since obesity is becoming a well known problem among children – it’s all over the media after all.

But there isn’t much being said about the importance of sleep for children, especially those of school age.

We have always valued the importance of sleep in our house, however, now that my kids are getting older (8 and 10) they have friends telling them that they get to stay up until 10pm and later!

My children go to bed between around 8:30pm on school nights and between 8:30 and 9 on weekends (unless there is a special occasion, then they might stay up a bit later).

Summers are a different story, but we still try to stick to an 8:30 bedtime if nothing is going on and we are at home.

Of course I don’t want them to be made fun of for going to bed early.

So I have started explaining to them why it is important to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

I want them to know that going to bed early isn’t a punishment, instead it is beneficial to their health, just like eating healthy and staying active are.

How Much Sleep Does A School Aged Child Need?

Children will vary with regards to how many hours of sleep they need a night, but the general consensus is that children between the ages of 6 and 12 should be getting a solid 9-11 hours of sleep each night according to The National Sleep Foundation.

They also advise a bedtime of between 7 and 8pm for preschoolers and young school aged children.

Babies and toddlers need even more sleep than this!  

If you are struggling to get your 0-5 year old to sleep, these articles may be of help:

5 Simple Ways To Help Improve Your Baby’s Sleep Problems

Sleep Training For Babies; A Look Inside A Virtual Sleep Consultation

When Do Toddlers Stop Napping; It May Surprise You!

In order for your school aged child to have good sleep habits it is imperative to ensure that your baby gets the recommended amount of sleep starting from day 1.

As your child gets older it will get more and more difficult to change poor sleep habits.

Positive sleep relationships PPS

7 Reasons Children Need A Good Night’s Sleep!

♦ Sleep Promotes Physical Growth

Human Growth Hormone is released between the hours of midnight and 6am.

This hormone is what is responsible for muscle and tissue development!

♦ Sleep Helps With Attention

One study involving kids between the ages of 6 and 15 found children who were lacking in sleep were more hyper, aggressive and impulsive.

These are all indicators of ADHD.

Some children have been misdiagnosed as having ADHD when the real issue is a lack of sleep!

Another study presented at the SLEEP 2015 conference found that motor planning skills – which are often difficult for children with ADHD – improve when the child gets more sleep.

So, if your child is hyper and does not seem tired in the evening, it is most likely because he is actually over tired.

Rather than letting her stay up later, try getting her to bed earlier.

Start with 20-30 minutes earlier for a few nights and keep adding another 10 minutes to that until your child is going to be at a reasonable time for his age.

♦ Sleep Helps The Brain Stay Organized

There is still a lot more research that needs to be done in this area, but what we are starting to learn from many sleep studies is that when we sleep our brain goes through a de-cluttering process.

When we sleep the brain is sorting through information and memories deciding what to store and what to discard.

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 ♦ Sleep Helps Kids Learn

As I mentioned above, sleep deprived children often have difficulty paying attention.

But in order to learn new skills and concepts a child must be able to pay attention.

7 Reasons why sleep is important for kids - #7 it's good for mental health

Children who sleep well are better able to store and retrieve information as well as learn new information and use critical thinking skills to process this information.

♦ Sleep Keeps Weight Gain Under Control

Studies are showing that children (and adults) are sleeping a lot less than they used to.

But, our neuroendocrine system is regulated when we sleep.

When sleep is sporadic or inadequate this system goes awry which some researchers believe is in part responsible for the rise in obesity.

Other health issues related to a lack of sleep include diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

♦ Sleep Is Good For Immunity

Getting a good night’s sleep has been linked to a stronger immune system, mainly where colds and flu are concerned.

Simply put, sleep deprivation can suppress immune system functioning.

♦ Sleep Is Good For Mental Health

More and more studies are showing that children who sleep well may have less issues with anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol abuse once they are adolescents and adults.

These 7 reasons for getting a good night sleep do not only apply to children.

Adults should also be aware of the need to sleep well!  I have struggled with insomnia for years.

I know how important sleep is and I have tried and will continue to try everything in order to get 7+ hours of sleep a night!

My children are aware of my struggles with sleep.

We talk openly about it as well as why it is so important for them to sleep well and not compare themselves to their friends who get to stay up late.

Some tips for getting your child to sleep well include:

  • remove electronic devices (including TV’s) from the bedroom – you too mom and dad
  • keep the time when your child goes to bed as consistent as possible (especially during the week when they are in school) and talk to your child about the importance of getting enough sleep.
  • if you are really struggling to get your child to fall asleep, check out this great bedtime story that should have your little one asleep in minutes!
  • encourage your child to wind down for the night by having some quiet time in her room.  She can either read, draw or play – but remember, no electronics as these stimulate the brain and make it difficult to get a good quality of sleep.

I hope I have been able to answer the question “why is sleep so important for kids?”

If you have anything to add, please leave a message in the comments below!

Resources

Kids Health
Wall Street Journal
Huffington Post
WebMD
National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute
Sleep Foundation

7 Reasons Why Sleep is essential for school aged kids

9 Comments

  1. Chris Poirier

    Totally agree that sleep is important for all ages. At our house we set goals around bedtime just like anything else: household chores, homework, getting things ready for the next day, and getting to bed on time! We even created an online platform to set the goals, track them and reward achievement: GoalUP.com Setting these goals is fostering self-reliance and creating and reinforcing good habits.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      I agree Chris! Goal setting is important for all ages, just like sleep. I will check out GoalUp, thanks for the info.

      Reply
  2. Philip Stearns

    Thanks for the article. Very nice. My daughter is now 18 and a senior in high school and I can tell you that the sleep battles do not get easier in the teen years. There is no accommodation in schools for the fact that teenagers need a lot of sleep and their natural cycles make it difficult for them to be “morning people” and fully functioning for those early morning classes. Homework becomes intense and requires the use of laptops and smartphones and often requires them to work late into the night in front of their glowing screens. In spite of all we — and schools — now know about their sleep needs and the consequences of this lifestyle on memory, mental and physical health, moods and ability to function well in school, nothing has changed to improve the situation for these kids. And the quantity and importance of the homework make it virtually impossible to assert sleep rules in the home.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Philip,

      I am not surprised to hear that sleep becomes a real challenge during the teen age years. My children are 7 and 9 so I still have a few years to go before we get into that territory. I realize that technology is inevitable and that once in high school children will be in front of screens all the time, as you said this is the requirement for homework, projects, etc. But from what we know falling asleep in front of a screen can have detrimental effects on the quality of ones sleep. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more and more teens with diagnosed sleep disorders.

      Reply
      1. Philip Stearns

        Yes, we now know how bad for these kids this lifestyle is. We have a good idea from work with circadian rhythms the impact on the brain that results from exposure to light at night. (Apple has invented a new technology that automatically shifts the light spectrum emitted by iPads as night progresses but few kids have this yet) And every parent can witness the reduction in alertness and mood changes of their teens during the day, especially in the mornings when they can barely function. The problem is that the schools have not responded to the information. They know the facts. They know that, without adequate sleep, the kids will have great difficulty in even retaining what they are studying. But it is difficult for them to restructure the schools days to start later and there is no coordination among faculty to ensure that the homework load at night is reasonable and would ensure kids could get enough sleep.

        Reply
  3. Leslie

    This information is so helpful to those of us who work in early childhood education. There is a reason that programs who are state licensed and accredited must show that there is a daily rest/nap time in their class schedules. Over the last 10 or so years, I can’t tell you how many families are requesting that we keep their child awake (which we do not, especially of the child clearly needs the rest). These seven reasons will help us better educate our families on the importance of sleep.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Leslie! For some reason many people think that once children are in school they no longer require the sleep that they did when they were babies, toddlers or even preschoolers. The public needs more education on how a child actually develops.

      Reply
  4. Momma Bear

    Great article! I have kids that are around the same age as yours and we are in bed winding down at about 7:30 so that hopefully we are asleep by about 8. We do stay up later on the weekends if we don’t have anything going on the next day. I don’t think we can underestimate how important sleep is for children and your article gives so many great reasons why. I’ll add these to my mommy talk when the kids ask why they have to go to bed so “early”

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Momma Bear! I am happy to hear you are a strong supporter of sleep for children as well!

      Reply

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