Sleep has so much more benefits than meets the eye. Parents often feel that their child will sleep when they tired and the amount they sleep for is probably all their baby needs, even when the amount of sleep is less than what is age appropriate.
Sleep is as important as what your child eats or the education and stimulation your child receives. Sleep has a direct link to your child’s mood and emotional state, a former client, Malyssa from TheMummyRetreat tells us about her experience when her little one obtained the sleep he needed "I have noticed a lot of change in him in the last few days, especially with his communication. He is now able to calmly show me what he wants, whereas before he would just be having tantrums because he couldn't communicate well. It's nice. I'm grateful for your help".
Sleep deprivation is similar to the effects of calcium deficiency. When your child has a low calcium diet, the effects thereof are not noticed until later on in life, and often only into adulthood where osteoporosis is common. The same can be said for sleep, when a child is chronically sleep-deprived due to the lack of age-appropriate sleep, the effects thereof surface much later on, usually when the child starts going to school. So just why is sleep so important...
1. Sleep Protects your Baby's Heart
When your child does not sleep well, they have a surge of stress hormones running through their little bodies, which may cause vascular damage. Jeffery Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist and researcher in Atlanta explains that when a child has dysfunctional sleep they experience excessive arousing throughout the night and as a result, their blood glucose and cortisol continue to be elevated which leaves your child with a higher risk of diabetes, obesity and potentially heart disease.
2. Sleep Promotes Concentration in Children
Research tells us that when children consistently sleep less than 10 hours a night before the age of three, they are at higher risk of having hyperactivity and ADHD symptoms by the age of six. The scariest part about ADHD and sleep deprivation is that the symptoms are the SAME. This is a very scary thought seeing as almost 70% of children who are diagnosed with ADHD are just sleep-deprived.
3. Reduces the Risk of Injury
91% of children who slept less than 9 hours a night presented with two or more injuries in one year than children who slept 9+ hours. Children who sleep less tend to be clumsier and more impulsive in their actions which often gets them into accidental situations. Research shows that children who slept less were far more likely to experience injuries that demand medical attention.
4. Affects Weight
Children who do not get enough sleep even as infants have a higher tendency to be overweight, this is because parents whose children are overtired tend to feed them more often in an attempt to soothe and calm their child. On the other hand, research shows that sleep deprivation tends to be a snowball effect when it comes to weight. When we eat and become full our fat cells send our brain a message that we are satisfied and don't need more food. When a child is sleep-deprived this hormone is largely impacted and these children tend to keep eating, then over time as the child does not get enough sleep they tend to become overweight.
5. Sleep Germinator
Research has shown that children who don't get enough sleep are more likely to get the common cold/ flu than those who are well-rested. When we sleep children and adults alike produce a protein called cytokines which helps the body to fight infection and stress. When your child does not get enough sleep it impacts the number of cytokines that are produced making it harder for the body to combat the infection.
6. Sleep Promotes Learning
Children who take naps longer than 45 minutes have been shown to have an increase in memory, they are more likely to remember and retain information that they have learnt whereas a child who does not sleep well forgot a third of what they have learnt. When a child sleeps for more than 45 minutes memories are transferred from short term to long term making it easier for your baby to retain information.
Ever woken up and you can swear that your baby has grown overnight, want to know something scary, it's true! The growth hormone created by the body is primarily secreted when we sleep. For optimal growth, a baby needs to spend at least 50% of their time asleep in a deep sleep.
8. The Emotional and Mental Well-being of a Parent
Children who don't sleep enough usually have heightened emotions, come across more "wired" and generally, on some days can be a lot to handle. This affects parents emotional and mental wellbeing as their ability to cope is impaired and therefore they are more irritable and frustrated in their life.
Ensuring your child gets the right amount of sleep is imperative for their well-being if you are struggling with your little one's sleep the best thing you can do is to work on it sooner rather than later.
It is important to note that sleep is not developmental and it may take 5-6 years before your child sleeps well but by then your child is already suffering the consequence of sleep deprivation.
Want to work on your little one's sleep, use the contact form to request your free 15-minute consultation to see how I can help you.
Love and Sleepy Hugs