Are your children sleeping enough?

A good night’s sleep

is just as important as other ingredients for a healthy lifestyle i.e. balanced nutrition and regular exercise. In fact, sleep deprivation can cause problems with health and wellbeing. For example research has shown links between a lack of sleep and obesity.  In children, the consequences are far reaching. 

Did you know that 40% of children will experience a sleep problem at some point in their childhood? A good sleep pattern plays a huge part in a child’s development, learning and growth – physical and emotional. Plus, a good sleep routine can be the deciding factor between a harmonious and a chaotic household. Therefore passing on good sleep skills will ensure your child has a better chance at achieving optimal physical and mental health for life.

While children sleep, the body releases a growth hormone which has the primary function of instigating growth and development. The benefits don’t end there. A good night’s sleep is crucial for improved concentration. The brain uses sleep to sift through the day’s events and process them, including any new skills that have been picked up. Concentration is further tested during the school day; lack of sleep may cause your child to be irritable, forgetful and at increased risk of making mistakes.

Our busy lifestyles mean that achieving a good night’s sleep often takes a back seat. However parents need to be aware of the long-term damaging effects of not having a consistent sleep routine. Scientific evidence concludes that those children and young adults who do not get the right amount of sleep are more likely to suffer from weight gain, depression, poor performance and concentration. There is also research which highlights negative effects on creative ability and immunity to diseases.

How much sleep is enough?

Most toddlers by the age of three should be sleeping about 12 hours. Children aged between 4 and 6 should be encouraged to sleep between 10.5 and 11.5 hours a night. Primary school children, aged 6-12 should be sleeping about 10 hours a night, although they may not achieve this each time because of worries which impact on them going to bed – maybe they have concerns regarding school, friends or family. Teenagers will need around 8-9 hours a sleep. However since growth and sleep are inextricably linked there may be times when more sleep is needed i.e. during a growth spurt. Teenage boys especially have been found to benefit from a daytime nap, most likely linked to metabolism changes and puberty. Hormonal changes in teen girls will also have an effect on sleep amount and quality and with the onset of puberty and changing biological clocks, sleep patterns may be altered too.

Is this information useful to you, family or friends? I would love to hear your thoughts. Look forward to conversing with you on Facebook and Twitter. The information you share will benefit other parents.

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