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:
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.
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.
♦ 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 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!