Isn’t it funny how the one thing we hated more than vegetables as children is the one thing we can’t ever seem to get enough of as adults? If we knew then, what most of us know now, we would have slept more.
The effects of sleep deprivation were Studied ad nauseam where it pertains to adults. But if we actually want to delve into why our sleep patterns are the way they are, we must look at sleep in children and understand why it’s such a valuable commodity and fully comprehend the full effects of not getting adequate sleep.
Sleep is as important, if not more, than any one thing we do to take care of our bodies. For children, this is even more so. They’ve not yet developed the horrible sleeping patterns that time, pressure, and work-related stress. What proper sleep does for children will have positive lasting effects for their entire lives. Sleep is so vital it has quickly become an urgent health mission in America.
Some of the many benefits of getting adequate rest are ones any parent, medical practitioner, or educator would appreciate. Proper sleep has a direct correlation with a child’s mood; thus, impacting their ability to learn and to behave properly. Sleeping for the recommended hours (based on a child’s age) has been proven to lower a child’s risk of becoming obese, developing diabetes, having learning disabilities, and having difficulties paying attention in class or at home. Just as we adults know that proper sleep is as beneficial to a child’s overall health as nutrition and regular exercise.
When a person – young or old – begins to sleep, the body gets to work to repair and repackage the bodies neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals that allow our brain to recognize signals and patterns and enable our brain cells to communicate with the rest of the body. Mostly, these signals tell your body to purge what it doesn’t need to make room for what it does need. It rids itself of harmful disease-causing toxins and rejuvenates the healthy cells in our bodies.
Experts suggest that families follow a strict routine around bedtime. Adhering to that cycle, helps your child to recognize cues and to keep themselves in check. Their bodies and brains will naturally begin shut down in a sense to allow them end their days and sleep as they should. Children between the ages of five to about twelve-years-old should sleep about nine and a half hours per night. You might find that your kid does well with slightly more, but whatever the case, it is our jobs as parents to create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Create a nighttime routine like bath, a book, and sleep. Explain to your child how the body works and what it does when you’re sleeping. They’ll be fascinated to know that sleep helps protect their hearts, can prevent weight gain, can destroy toxins and germs, can increase their ability to concentrate, and can help them to be the best person they can be because they did what their body needed to do to make them thrive.
“Sleep is as important, if not more, than any one thing we do to take care of our bodies.”
By Olga Lucia Gomez, MD