Why is sleep important for kids?
There are so many reasons, but in this article I will discuss 7 of the most important ones!
We now know that it’s important for children to have a healthy diet and get plenty of physical activity 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 (12 and 14) they have some friends telling them that they get to stay up as long as they want!
In our house we try to have screens off around 9pm on school nights and and lights out is usually by 9:30 and 10pm. On weekends they do stay up later from time to time!
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.
The Importance Of Sleep For A School Aged Child
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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.
An earlier bedtime is imperative to getting deep sleep as this sleep cycle happens before midnight!
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:
In order for your school aged child to have good sleep habits it is essential to ensure that your child 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.
7 Reasons Why Children Need A Good Night’s Sleep!
♦ Sleep Promotes Physical Growth
Human Growth Hormone is most often released during sleep with peak spikes occurring around 10pm, midnight and 2am.
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 they are actually over tired.
Rather than letting your child stay up later, try getting them 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 their age.
My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 10. He has always had issues with waking up 1 to 3 times a night, however he is able to get back to sleep on his own.
After we got the diagnosis I started doing more research about natural supplements that can help with ADHD and sleep and was surprised to find that there are studies supporting the use of magnesium to help with both sleep and attention.
So now my son is taking a magnesium citrate powder supplement before bed and it has been helping so much!
Children with autism also often struggle to get a good nights sleep. But there are ways parents can help their child sleep.
♦ Sleep Helps The Brain Stay Organized
There is still a lot more research that needs to be done in this area, but what researchers 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.
♦ 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.
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 Ensuring Your Kids Get A Good Nights Sleep!
♥ 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.
♥ Weighted blankets are like miracles for some children. My entire family has them and love them!
♥ Encourage your child to wind down for the night by having some quiet time in their room.
They can read, draw or play quietly – but remember, no electronics as these stimulate the brain and make it difficult to get a good quality of sleep.
♥ Try a white noise machine. My husband and I have one in our room and so do the kids!
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!