By now we’ve seen enough scientific studies that support the fact that high quality sleep is essential to keep our bodies and minds at their best. Which is why it becomes even more important for little ones who are in a crucial growing period. Are you struggling with your kid at bedtime? Does your child find it difficult to sleep on time? Let’s explore zzzs of sleep. Why it’s important, how much is enough and how do you get your little one good sleep.
WHILE WE SLEEP
During sleep, the body gets an opportunity to rest, restore its normal functions, save energy and grow. Besides the essential housekeeping of repair and recovery, sleep also performs an essential function in cognitive development. We store, sort and process what we have learnt during the day, while we sleep. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have a strong memory, improved attention, more self-regulated behavior, better learning, and overall improved mental and physical health.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
But how much sleep is adequate for your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are as below:
- Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours
- Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
- Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
- Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours
THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP
- Mental Development: Children have difficulty in focusing on and managing their moods during the daytime when they haven’t slept enough. When the child is rested properly, it helps them to not only concentrate and learn new things but also supports the brain to absorb and retain information. Sleep is the secret behind even-tempered happy children.
- Physical Development: A good night's sleep promotes healthy physical development. Growth hormones release shortly after the beginning of deep sleep, in children. A lack of sleep can cause hormonal deficiencies that can affect the growth and height of your baby.
- Immunity: Sleep contributes to a healthy immune system. How? During sleep, the immune system releases a protein called Cytokines (soldiers fighting infection). A lack of sleep decreases the production of cytokines and children become more prone to infection.
Sadly, despite knowing that sleep is integral to child development, doesn’t always mean that they’ll get it. Use these tips to improve your child’s sleep.
Not all children may feel tired at bedtime, some may need the presence of parents around them. A Few kids also wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to sleep again. Try these tips and see the difference:
- Dim the lights and ensure there is no noise around
- Stop the use of electronics/screens like TV, smartphone, etc., at least an hour before bedtime
- Keep a regular time each day for bedtime and waking up
- Create relaxing rituals like a warm bath
- Make bedtime stories a habit every night
- Avoid large and heavy meals for dinner
- Ensure a comfortable temperature in the bedroom
- Do not involve the child in play after dinner time, stick to unstimulating and calming conversations
For healthy growth and development, sleep is as significant to a child as eating healthy and exercising. Remember children imitate parents, make your own sleep a priority to set a good example for your kids and you will have hacked the simple secret to a happier, healthier, smarter family.