The Importance of Sleep for Your Child’s Health

Sleep is essential to your child’s health and well-being.


Of course, it is a vital part of the day for all of us – we know the impact lack of sleep has on us. Moodiness, lack of focus, inability to make good decisions…

It is even more important that children get enough sleep. You can contact your Mount Dora Pediatrician if you find that your child is struggling to get sufficient rest at night – and during the day in the early years. But here are some tips regarding sleep and your child’s health.


How Much Sleep Do Children Need?


It does vary from child to child, newborn sleep should be in the region of 16 to 17 hours for the first week, regularly spaced through the day and dropping slightly by the end of the first month.

After three months, the amount of sleep is fairly similar, but the pattern will most likely have changed, with 10 to 11 hours at night, and just 4 to 5 during the day.

Night time sleep remains pretty constant through the first year of your baby’s life, but daytime snoozes reduce to a couple of hours by the time the little one reaches his or her first birthday.

Mind you, it is a lucky parent who finds that their child sleeps through the night…those 11 hours are often disturbed by needs for feeding, diaper changing and such-like.

It’s only by the time they reach the age of seven or eight that your kid’s night-time sleep will start to drop below the eleven-hour mark. But even teenagers need a good nine hours to keep them at their adolescent best.


What Are the Consequences for Kids with a Lack of Sleep?


There is a link between lack of sleep and obesity in children. This is clearly a condition to avoid for your child, as there are all kinds of physical and emotional concerns associated with the problem. Diabetes, organ damage, heart problems, lack of self-esteem – all can result from having an overweight child.

The reason for this increased risk of obesity is that the child is tired from their lack of rest. In order to find the energy they need to get them through their active day, they will tend to crave sweet, sugary and starchy foods.

Younger children who do not get enough sleep will often display symptoms such as overactivity, irritability and lack of concentration (although this can be hard to spot in a very young child, trust your instincts on your child’s behavior). They will also be seeking constant stimulation.

In fact, parents can easily mistake the outcomes of lack of sleep as indication of a disorder such as ADHD.

Kids who don’t get enough sleep also are sick more often. Once sick, their illness lasts longer when not getting adequate sleep.



How To Help Your Child To Sleep Better


Getting your child into a stable routine from an early age is a key to ensuring that your their sleep patterns are good. A consistent bedtime ritual helps the brain to become familiar with times for sleep and waking.

If it is difficult to get your child to adjust to their routine, then a warm (but not hot) bath helps to get the body to a good temperature for rest.

Relaxation or yoga exercises make it easier to get your child into a physically relaxed state. You can also try a bedtime story. Reading (and your voice) will assist with mental relaxation.

The room itself is important. A dark, tidy, warm and relaxed ambience will help the brain to associate the room at night with sleep.

Keep them away from electronic devices right before going to bed. The stimulation from phones, tablets, and TVs can keep children (and adults) from being able to get to sleep quickly.

If none of the above is helping, then it’s worth keeping a sleep diary to share with your child’s Pediatrician.

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