The Importance of Sleep for Children
We've all been sleep deprived at some point in our lives. You know that feeling of restlessness, lack of energy, and grumpiness when you get out of bed? Truly, a lack of quality sleep can affect your day and take a toll on your health.
It is critical for everyone to get enough deep sleep in order to feel refreshed and energised. This is crucial for kids who require more sleep to support their growth and cognitive development. However, just like us adults, our little ones can struggle with sleeping and staying asleep. Understanding the needs of your children can help you support them in achieving a better night’s rest.
Why is Sleep Important for Children?
Like adults, our little ones need sleep to rest and recharge after a long day. Quality sleep can help with the growth and development of their young minds. A good night's sleep helps children's immune systems function properly, allowing them to fight diseases.
Completing the required amount of sleep for your kids is crucial to building good cognitive performance. Sleep quality can also impact a child’s mood, alertness, memory, and physical development. As kids learn many basic concepts, getting a healthy amount of sleep can aid their concept acquisition and resilience. Without a proper night’s rest, your kid may struggle to pay attention or become grumpy during the day. High blood pressure, obesity, and other heart conditions were also evident in children with inadequate or poor sleep quality.
How Many Sleeping Hours Do Children Need?
The recommended amount of sleep for children will vary based on their age range. Ultimately, newborn babies need at least 14-17 hours of sleep, while 4-month-old to 11-month old infants need at least 12 to 16 hours of sleep. On the other hand, one- to two-year-old toddlers require 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while children from age three to five need 10 to 13 hours of slumber.
A grade school kid will need 9–12 hours of sleep a day, while a teenager needs to complete at least 8–10 hours of night’s rest.
What are the Causes of Sleep Deprivation for Children?
There are various causes of sleep deprivation for both kids and adults. Some of these include poor sleep hygiene, stress, mental health issues, or medications. Some sleeping problems, like insomnia and sleep apnea, also impact the quality of one’s rest.
For children, on top of the usual causes, lack of restorative sleep can be caused by nightmares or night terrors during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. Night talking, sleep walking, and teeth grinding can all cause nighttime awakenings. Having an uncomfortable mattress can also cause night sweats, which are disturbing for your children.
With all the gadgets, television shows, and gaming applications available, many children tend to spend their supposedly sleeping hours playing or engaging in social media. This is one of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation today. Playing games and watching content using the gadgets can stimulate the brain, making it harder to fall asleep. This is why experts strongly advise limiting screen time before bedtime. This is helpful for both kids and adults.
What are the Indications of Sleep Deprivation for Kids?
Some signs and implications of sleep deprivation for children include some issues with paying attention, lack of energy or hyperactivity, grumpiness or being moody, falling asleep in school or outside regular sleeping hours, and fatigue. Your children may also have a hard time socialising when they lack proper sleep.
Other short term signs include:
- Having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at night
- Having a hard time waking them up in the morning
- Waking up feeling tired and groggy
- The need to take unplanned naps in an attempt to catch up with the sleep dept
- Difficulty in paying attention
- Lack of energy and reduced curiosity when learning at school
- Distracted thought process
As we mentioned earlier, these signs are short-term and can manifest instantly. The long-term implications of sleep deprivation for children involve body aches and gastrointestinal distress, excessive weight gain, memory issues, mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and other medical problems. If your children are regularly sleeping late or waking up too early, there will be deeper implications for their physical and cognitive functions.
How to Guarantee Your Kids' Night's Rest?
Sleep is highly important, not only for the children’s growth, but also for their health. Follow these tips to make sure that your little ones are getting enough rest.
- Turn off the television, cellphone, or other gadgets at least an hour before bedtime to reduce their exposure to artificial light and other things that can make them alert at night.
- Turn off bright lights before going to bed.
- Set a regular sleep schedule and follow it even on weekends and holidays.
- Help your kids create relaxing sleep habits by taking a bath, brushing their teeth, and sleeping in comfortable nightwear.
- Instead of using gadgets, you can read them a book or play soft music.
- Keep a balanced schedule between playing and resting.
- Make sure that they are consuming a healthy diet and getting enough exercise.
- Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and sugary drinks before bedtime.
Last but not least, create a conducive bedroom to help them sleep comfortably at night. Give your kids a comfy mattress that can support your child’s sleeping needs. The right mattress for kids must have the right height, materials, and firmness levels. Firmer mattresses are recommended for kids, since they can provide adequate support and safety for the young ones who love to toss, turn, and play on their sleeping surface. The right mattress should also be breathable enough to prevent sweaty nights.
In terms of the bedding accessories, the best choices will be those that are made from hypoallergenic materials to prevent allergies and asthma symptoms when the kids rest.
It is true that creating healthy sleep hygiene is easier said than done, but the effort is surely worth it. Of course, the best way to teach your kids to formulate a healthy sleep pattern is to maintain a good one for yourself. If your little ones still experience problems with sleeping, you should definitely visit a doctor to identify some underlying reasons.