Originally, this week’s post was going to be about getting your child ready for back to school. After a lot of research, I realized how important a good night’s sleep is for children – all year long – that I decided to focus on that.
Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best.
–Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 1-5 need anywhere from 11 to 14 hours of sleep within a 24-hour period. Sleep is important as it’s during this time that your child’s brain develops. If your child is constantly tired, it will also affect his/her immune system and metabolism.
How does sleep affect your children?
- Sleep affects your metabolism. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.
- Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.
- Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.
So what can you do help your child get a good night’s sleep?
- Maintain a daily sleep schedule and consistent bedtime routine.
- Make the bedroom environment the same every night and throughout the night.
- Set limits that are consistent, communicated and enforced. Encourage use of a security object such as a blanket or stuffed animal.
- Child should sleep in the same sleeping environment every night, in a room that is cool, quiet and dark – and without a TV.
What struggles have you encountered with your child’s sleeping patterns and how do you conquer them?