Everyone knows sleep is important. After a long day, your body craves sleep whether you mentally want to or not. In fact, go long enough without it and our bodies would fall asleep on their own.
For children, though, sleep plays an interesting role in their development. It doesn’t just rejuvenate them for another day like you or I. Sleep plays a key role in their growth.
In our bodies, the pituitary gland secrets the Human Growth Hormone, a substance that, quite literally, helps the body grow. Its production is influenced by many factors, such as stress, nutrition and exercise. In growing bodies, however, HGH is affected by sleep.
HGH is most intensely released shortly after children fall into their deep sleep. That means they do the most growing while they are asleep.
That means without proper sleep, a child’s growth can actually be stunted. Improper sleep can consist of keeping a child awake when their bodies want to sleep, or a sleep obstruction problem like sleep apnea.
If a child severely lacks HGH, they can even suffer from lung and heart problems, as these organs may not grow fast enough to keep up with their bodies. It’s unlikely that a lack of sleep could cause this much damage, but little sleep combined with an underlying condition could create a serious problem.
Other hormones can be affected by a lack of sleep as well. Hormones that regulate appetite can be affected, causing your child to overeat or prefer high-calorie foods. Lack of sleep can affect the way a child’s body handles the food it receives by triggering insulin resistance (which is a threat for diabetes).
You can tell your child needs more sleep by evaluating their mood and behavior. If they’re frequently cranky, irritable and lethargic, they might need a few more hours at night or an extra nap during the day. Lack of sleep over a long term can affect your child’s grades in school, their performance in extra-curricular activities, and even make permanent changes to their disposition and personality.
Ensure your child is getting enough sleep by setting a bedtime and nap routine appropriate for their age and adjusting it as you see fit. A consistent routine will help their bodies adjust so they know when sleep is coming. Make sure your child’s sleeping space is conducive to sleep without any distractions.
Most importantly, keep an eye out for signs of sleep deprivation. It does more damage than you think.
Guest Blog by Joanna von Yurt, Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.
Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.
Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology.
Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.
Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!
Visit www.swanling.com for more information.
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