How Important is Getting Sufficient Sleep for your Child

October 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Baby Tips

connection-sleep-and-growthGetting sufficient sleep is very important for your child as it is connected to various important and critical functions for your baby’s growth. As a new parent you will realize that if you do not get a good night’s sleep it bothers you the whole day. The ongoing irritation and the inability to focus on the daily routines is totally affected.

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The same reasoning goes for a new baby too. Baby’s energy has to be restored and the main function i.e building brain connections has to progress. It has been proved that sleep actually fuels the physical growth of a baby.

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Connection between Sleep and Growth for your baby

In the initial weeks after the baby is born you will observe that the new born baby is asleep for several hours at a stretch. At times baby is breast fed during deep sleep only. Baby is awake for a few hours only.

Growth is a complex process that requires several hormones to stimulate various biological events in the blood, organs, muscles, and bones.

The science of growing states that there is a protein hormone secreted by the pituitary gland called growth hormone (or “human growth hormone“) which is a key player in these events. Several factors affect its production, including nutrition, stress, and exercise. In young children, though, the most important factor is sleep.

connection-sleep-and-growthGrowth hormone is released throughout the day. But for kids, the most intense period of release is shortly after the beginning of deep sleep. Therefore it becomes necessary for new parents to realize this and make the environment a pleasant one.

How much sleep is required for your baby?

For a new born the total nap time- including day and night time is about 16 to 20 hours. As the baby is 3 to 6 months old it reduces to 15 to 17 hrs and by the time the baby is 1 year old the baby sleeps for about 12 to 14 hrs only. There is also a shift of sleeping more during night time and less during the day as there are several activities the growing baby is busy with.

As the child grows the sleep patterns keep changing. Sleep needs are somewhat individual, with some kids requiring slightly less or more than their peers. Inadequate sleep there will be several growth problems i.e stunted growth. The baby is all the while irritated and growth hormone production gets disrupted causing obstructed sleep apnea.

Few examples of health issues due to inadequate sleep are inadequate height. This condition is known as growth hormone deficiency that can affect heart or lung strength or immune system function. (It’s treatable with a supplementary hormone.)
Growing children also show changes in the levels of hormones circulating in their body. Hormones that regulate hunger and appetite can be affected, causing a child to overeat and have a preference for high-calorie carbs. What’s more, a shortage of sleep can affect the way the body metabolizes these foods, triggering insulin resistance.

Lack of sleep at night can also affect motor skills and concentration during the day, leading to more accidents and behavioral problems, and poor performance at school.

Making Sure to have a good night’s sleep

To help your child get sufficient sleep, follow the below guidelines:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime. This will provide a timing by the time he is in school.
  • Set a good bedtime routine. Listening to lullaby, soft music, reading of story books will give indications that it is bed time.
  • If required give the baby a bath and ensure he is fed adequately such that hunger pangs will not wake him up earlier than schedule.
  • Ensure the room is encouraging for the baby to sleep, the environment is pleasant and quiet. A very dim lighting can be provided till baby is fast asleep
  • Avoid loud music, TV and computer in the baby’s room as it will distract the baby and lead to disturbed sleep too.
  • Always stick to the same timetable and routines for bedtime on weekends and vacations that you follow during the week. A small variation once in a while won’t cause long-term disruptions, but repeated and irregular bedtimes can lead to poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation.

Establish good sleep habits for your baby that will prove beneficial in the long run.

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