As adults, we recognize the importance of getting enough sleep each night. It is easy for us to see how much better we feel and how much better we function when we have had a good night’s sleep. When it comes to our children though we may not think about how a lack of sleep can impact their daily lives.
Children’s mental and physical development is directly impacted by sleep. From the newborn to teenagers, getting the proper amount of sleep is going to help them function better.
There are several reasons why getting enough sleep is important for children.
- Sleep helps keep the body’s immune system working properly.
- Sleep helps the brain retain new learning and helps with memory recovery and retention.
- Sleep impacts the emotional centers of the brain which controls rational behavior.
- Sleep allows the body to relax and recharge.
Current research also indicates that not getting enough sleep can be one of the causes of obesity. These studies are observational but the Harvard School of Public Health reports that several studies have followed large numbers of children over long periods of time and have observed a convincing association between lack of sleep and obesity in children.
How much sleep does a child need? Here is a table from the National Sleep Foundation:
Would you recognize signs that your child is not getting enough sleep?
- Always falling asleep in the car – especially on short trips
- Very hard to wake in the morning – you have to wake them repeatedly
- Irritable or moody
- Hyperactive behavior
- Trouble concentrating
So, how can we help our children get enough sleep? Here are a few suggestions:
- Have a consistent bedtime routine – make it positive and relaxing.
- Be consistent with your child’s sleep schedule.
- Keep TV’s computers, video games, etc. out of your child’s room.
- Watch for caffeine in products your child drinks.
So remember, when thinking about healthy habits; include sleep near the top of the list! Helping your child develop good sleep habits at a young age will benefit them for the rest of their life.
Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Kathryn Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County
Iowa State University Extension http://www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/news/help-children-get-enough-sleep
Harvard School of public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/sleep-and-obesity/
National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep