Sleep is absolutely critical to Child Health both mentally and physically. Growth hormones are released during heavy sleep and tissue repair occurs too. Brain functions are revitalised including memory and concentration levels.
In a survey in the United States in was estimated that children are getting 1.5 hours less sleep than the recommended amounts and that parents often did not know what these recommended amounts were:
The table below is based on data provided by an international private sleep clinic, Millpond (www.mill-pond.co.uk) :
|Age||Recommended Number of hours Sleep|
|3 months||15 hours|
|6 months||14 hours|
|12 months||14 hours|
|3 years||12 hours|
|5 years||11 hours|
|7 years||10.5 hours|
What can happen if my child doesn't get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Becoming less sociable and more irritable
- Becoming overweight (according to some research in Canada , children who sleep less are 3.5 times more likely to be overweight than those that slept 12 hours or more)
- Poor concentration and reduced memory
- Reduced immune system (get ill more often and have more serious illnesses)
- Possible increased risk of diabetes
If your child has major sleep issues then you should seek advice as this could seriously affect their health.
What can I do to promote a good night's sleep for my child?
- Keep your child's room quiet, dark and at a suitable temperature
- Give your child sufficient sleep hours based on their age
- Train your child to get to sleep by themselves (don't rock them or cuddle them to sleep as they will depend on this)
- Don't underfeed or overfeed your child in the hours leading up to bedtime
- Encourage your child to go to the toilet just before bedtime
- Keep a regular bedtime routine that the child gets used to and expects.
- Don't allow older children to take afternoon naps. Night time sleep is far more beneficial.
- Avoid stimulation and serious activity in the hour before bed. Allow a wind down time.
- Read a book to your younger children as part of their routine
- Do not allow iphones or tablets to stay in children's bedrooms overnight
Sleep and health are heavily intertwined. Long term sleep loss will have physical and mental effects. Every parent or carer should prioritise sleep in their child's life to maximise all the great health benefits of a good night's sleep.