I wanted to share with you the top five reasons why your child needs a good night's sleep. As parents, it's easy to brush off the importance of sleep for both our children and ourselves. We often hear jokes about the lack of sleep we'll be getting once we have a baby on the way. However, it's crucial to recognise the significance of sleep for our little ones.
When our babies wake up multiple times throughout the night, we may try to shrug it off, hoping that it will pass with time. But the truth is, prioritising healthy sleep habits is essential for our children's well-being. So let's dive into the key reasons why your child needs quality sleep, and why it's worth making it a priority.
As a sleep consultant for parents, I'd like to share with you why your little ones might fight sleep. Contrary to what you might believe, children actually need more sleep than adults. It's not that their systems require less of it, but rather, they need a whole lot more! Let me explain why this is the case.
1. Brain Development
Did you know that sleep plays a critical role in a baby’s brain development ? When your little one is asleep, their brain is hard at work processing and consolidating information. This results in the creation of new neural connections and pathways, which helps them better retain the skills and abilities they've learned. But it's not just nighttime sleep that matters. Regular daytime naps can also make a big difference in your baby's brain development. Studies show that babies who take naps on a consistent basis have an increased ability to recall language, develop new skills, and think creatively compared to those who don't. So, make sure your little one gets the sleep they need, both during the day and at night, to support their brain development.
2. Physical Growth
While your little one is sound asleep, their body is hard at work producing growth hormone (hGH), which helps stimulate tissue growth and repair. Even though your baby may appear peaceful and still during sleep, their cells in the cartilage (chondrocytes) and bones (osteoblasts) are receiving signals from hGH to increase replication. This may sound complicated, but it simply means that bones are growing longer, thicker, and stronger. So, make sure your baby is getting plenty of restful sleep to support their physical growth and development.
3. Emotional Wellbeing
When children are sleep-deprived, they may experience frequent mood swings, irritability, and difficulty regulating their emotions. As explained by Dr. Dean Beebe, director of the neuropsychology program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, lack of sleep can cause children to struggle with managing their moods and reacting strongly to minor events. Additionally, inadequate sleep can negatively impact a child's attention span, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving skills.
Please prioritise your child's sleep routine for their emotional health. Remember, a well-rested child is a happier and more balanced child.
4. Immune System Function
Sleep is critical for boosting your baby's immune system. Not only does it help fight off infections and illnesses, but it also supports adults as well. When your little one is sleeping, their body produces and releases various types of immune cells, such as cytokines, T-cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. These cells play a vital role in identifying and targeting pathogens, like viruses and bacteria, and initiating an immune response to eliminate them. It's essential that your baby gets adequate sleep to ensure that their system is loaded with these necessary immune cells to combat any infections or health problems that may arise. Remember, a good night's sleep is key to keeping your baby healthy and happy!
5. Better Parent-Child Relationships
As a parent, ensuring that your child gets enough sleep can greatly enhance the quality of your relationship with them. When your little one is consistently getting the right amount of sleep, they tend to be more agreeable, joyful, and attentive. As a result, you'll likely experience less tension and annoyance while interacting with your child. I'm sure we can all agree that having a content, better-behaved child is a goal we all aspire to achieve, wouldn't you say?
How can you help your child get more sleep?
Here are five simple changes you can make tonight to help your little one get the rest they need.
Firstly, establish a consistent bedtime routine that includes calming activities like reading or listening to music. Remember, consistency is key.
Secondly, try to set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
Thirdly, create a peaceful sleep environment for your child by making sure their room isn't too warm and is dark and quiet. While white noise machines can be an exception, as they can help drown out external noise.
Fourthly, avoid screens, especially tablets and smartphones, before bedtime as they can interfere with sleep.
Lastly, encourage your child to engage in physical activity during the day, as this can help them fall asleep more easily at night. As a parent, it's important to prioritise your child's sleep and make sure they're getting the rest they need.