Bedtime Benefits

Why Sleep Is So Important for Kids

Image of peaceful african american little girl sleeping in bed at home - Why Sleep Is So Important for Kids

By Audrey Sellers

Fluff your pillows and slip into your coziest PJs — it’s National Sleep Month. While we all love sinking into a soft bed and waking up rested and recharged, sleep is especially important for kids. Children need enough sleep to promote healthy growth and development, yet most aren’t getting nearly enough. According to the CDC, about one-third of kids are sleep-deprived.

Here’s why parents and caregivers should work to change that and make sleep more of a priority for their children.

Sleep promotes learning. Kids are constantly learning new information, and their brains are growing faster than at any other time in life. Getting enough sleep is critical in helping the brain move new information from short-term memory to long-term memory. When kids are well-rested, it’s easier for them to remember things like state capitals, multiplication facts, and elements on the periodic table.

Sleep enhances kids’ immunity. Research has shown that sleep and the immune system are closely intertwined. Consistent sleep allows for balanced and effective immune function. Well-rested kids are better able to recover and fight off illnesses they may pick up on the playground or in the classroom.

Sleep promotes a healthier weight. Children who log more hours of sleep tend to have a decreased obesity risk. This is because sleep deprivation is associated with elevated cortisol levels and growth hormone deficiency, which have both been linked to obesity.

Sleep can lead to better behavior. Just like adults, kids can be cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. A study published in “Sleep Medicine” found that poor sleep is related to poor school behavior. Getting more rest helps kids not only stay more alert in class but also keep a better handle on their emotions.

Sleep boosts kids’ overall wellness. Children can simply do more and feel better when they’ve had enough sleep. They’ll have the energy to play and learn throughout the day. This leads to a snowball effect of feeling tired by bedtime and then being ready for another good night’s sleep.

Sleeping Well at Every Stage

Kids’ sleep needs change as they grow. For example, babies need anywhere from 14 to 17 hours, while toddlers should snooze for 11 to 14 hours. By the time kids are in elementary school, they need 9 to 11 hours. Teens should rest 8 to 10 hours every night. Check out the sidebar for ideas on how to help your kids get a full night’s sleep. 

Father Reading Story To Daughter At Bedtime Why Sleep Is So Important for Kids
Father Reading Story To Daughter At Bedtime

Set The Stage for Restful Slumber

Are you practicing good sleep hygiene at your house? This term refers to the habits, behaviors, and environmental factors that you can adjust to ensure a good night’s sleep.

If you have a:

Baby: First, make sure they’re not hungry or need a diaper change. Then, try soothing them back to sleep by talking or patting their back. Very young babies haven’t yet developed a circadian rhythm, but you can help them by using light and darkness as visual cues on when to rest.

Toddler: Give your toddler some say over what pajamas they wear or what book to read before bed. This can help cut back on bedtime stalling and stubbornness. Also, establish a soothing bedtime routine. This may include a warm bath or soft music.

School-age kid: Try to stick to a consistent schedule whenever possible. Sports and other extracurricular activities can make it challenging but aim to follow the same routine every night. Make sure your kids complete their homework and other activities outside their bedroom to create a clear distinction between the bedroom and sleep.   

Teenager: Only about 8% of American teens get the sleep they need, according to a study in the “Journal of Adolescent Health.” Instead of battling over bedtimes, try touting all the benefits of getting more sleep. For example, teenagers will perform better in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities with proper rest. They’ll also experience a lift in their mood. Try limiting screen time before bed and eliminating late-night eating and drinking.  

Read more about sleep hygiene HERE on LivingMagazine.net

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