Importance of Sleep for Children

It goes without saying, a well-rested child is a happy child.  In a world which is quite demanding and where we often find homes with both parents working, we find ourselves constantly racing with time.

From the moment we awake we are rushing to go from point a to point b and up until the evening when we can finally breathe a sigh of relief, we want nothing more sometimes then to just let our let our children ‘be’ and spend the time we may not have had during the day with them.   Perhaps we have been with them all day and come bedtime we feel ‘it’s ok if we give them 3o minutes more, it’s only 9pm?’

Sleep is essential for growth, and although most parents seem to understand this instinctively, many parents struggle in their efforts to make sure their children get the best sleep possible.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following sleep hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

  • Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

The group found that when children receive the right amount of uninterrupted sleep required for their bodies, it led to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

More reasons why your child needs a good night’s rest:

  1. Sleep helps in brain development by allowing certain tissue and synapses to alter and regenerate. Moreover, the most crucial changes of the brain have been proven to come during a child’s first three years of their life.
  2. Sleep helps with learning as children who receive adequate sleep area able to concentrate more, have an increased attention span and they are able to retain more information than those children who lack sleep.
  3. Children who receive adequate sleep are proven to be healthier and are less likely to develop cardiovascular issues, hypertension, diabetes and become obese in life.

While figuring out the perfect sleep routine may take time and putting your child down to bed can be quite eventful, aim to be consistent.  Follow a bedtime routine that encourages your child to recognize that it’s time to slow down and prepare to rest their little bodies.  Share with them the reasons and importance of having a good night’s sleep and if incorporating a bedtime story, lullaby, or just a short discussion ensure it doesn’t involve screens of any type or anything which would overly stimulate their minds.  Remember, when you pick a routine stick with it and always end it with big kiss and a nice warm hug goodnight!