Sleep is essential to good health. When children get the amount of sleep they need, they may have a lower risk of developing diabetes and becoming overweight, and they may also have fewer learning problems and attention issues. Here are a few more reasons why good sleep is essential to children’s’ health:
If you wake up one morning and it looks like your baby grew overnight, you might be right. Growth hormone is typically secreted during deep sleep, and babies spend about 50 percent of their time in this deep sleep. It is considered essential for adequate growth. Research has shown that children with deficient growth hormone levels were found to have slept less deeply than the average child.
There is increasing evidence showing that not getting enough sleep can cause children to become overweight, starting in infancy. When we have eaten enough to be satisfied, our fat cells create the hormone leptin, signaling us to stop eating. Sleep deprivation may impact this hormone, so kids continue to eat. Tired kids, much like adults, crave higher-fat or higher-carb foods when they are tired and they tend to be more sedentary, burning fewer calories.
Jeffrey Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist and researcher in Atlanta states that “Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night. Their blood glucose and cortisol remain elevated at night. Both are linked to higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease.”
When we sleep, we produce proteins called cytokines, which the body relies on to fight infection, illness, and stress. Not getting enough sleep can impact the number of cytokines in our bodies, making it more likely for us to catch a cold. Cytokines fight illness and make us sleepy, forcing us to rest when we have the flu or a cold. There is little data on young children, but studies of teens have found that reported bouts of illness declined with longer nightly sleep.
Children who sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age 6. It is important to rule out sleep issues when testing for ADHD as the symptoms are almost identical, including impulsivity and distractibility.
At Children’s World Learning Center, we know that the early years of life matter because early experiences affect the brain. As a child’s brain grows, the quality of the experiences that a child has creates either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all of the development and behaviors that follow. Parents want to make educated choices for their families, and getting things right the first time is better than trying to fix them later. Contact us today!