What if we told you that sleep is more crucial for kids than we think it is? Sure, we might notice kids to be active and jumpy all the time, but they do need their fair share of rest. Sleep constitutes more than a third of the day for children, and around a third or less for adults. With that being said, proper sleep at the proper time is crucial for both kids and grown-ups.
Why focus on children?
Because sleep or the inherent lack of it is probably the most discussed problem out there when it comes to taking care of your kids. Most children probably hate lying on their bed, with closed eyes, doing nothing, when they could be enjoying cartoons or doing something else more interesting than sleep. Who wants to rest, right?
Even if they don’t want to, it is crucial that they do it. With the amount of energy that kids expend throughout the day, a good night’s sleep is important to rejuvenate the children for another fun-filled day ahead.
But wait! Did you know that sleep isn’t limited to helping kids rest?
Yes, you heard that right.
Sleep just isn’t for proper rest and care of the children. It performs more functions than you could care to imagine, and not just rejuvenation. Here are a few more reasons why kids need sleep.
Sleep helps protect the heart.
Studies have shown that sleep helps protect the heart from arterial wall-damaging cholesterol and circulating stress hormones. Children with sleep disorders usually have higher blood glucose and cortisol levels, which have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Therefore, sleeping well reduces the risk of a majority of diseases.
Sleep is great for the attention span of kids.
Even if your kids sleep an extra half hour every night, it can help them pay more attention in class and manage their moods very well. Tired kids can be distracted and may make impulsive decisions, all due to a lack of concentration and not being in their complete senses. Sleep helps them achieve a sense of calmness, if you must, and aids them in focusing more on studies and daily activities.
Need help in beating germs? Just sleep!
Kids suffering from infection or illness can be greatly benefitted by some sleep. During sleep, our body produces cytokines, which are proteins that the body uses to fight against germs and illness. Obviously, the more your child sleeps, the more cytokines are produced, and the better your kids can recover from the flu or fever.
Sleep even helps kids watch their weight. Why aren’t we adults so lucky?
Well, if the results of a study by Penn State University are to be considered, then there is clear evidence that too little sleep in kids leads to them being overweight. The aforementioned study dictates that when parents know the difference between hunger and other cues, then by using soothing techniques other than feeding their baby, they can avoid the kid being overweight. The leptin hormone, which tells our bodies that we’ve eaten enough, is not produced in the right quantity when kids are sleep-deprived, thus making them eat more and more.
So, now you know how important sleep for kids actually is.
Is this it? How to make kids go to sleep quicker? How to establish good sleeping habits?
According to leading paediatricians, the best time for kids under the age of 10 to go to sleep is 9 pm or before.
Paediatricians say that children who go to bed after 9 pm stay awake fidgeting for longer, hence get less sleep, and may also wake more often at night. Therefore, it is good to establish a schedule for your little ones to put them to bed before 9 pm, even if this means climbing into bed with them yourself. Just get out when you’re sure they’ve dozed off!
Maintain the same sleep environment for your kids.
Establishing a sleeping routine isn’t the hardest job in the world. Stick to what works:
- Favourite bedtime stories, a preferred blanket or pillow, toys or other things.
- Say no to mobiles and other screens.
- Try to maintain the same level of lighting and temperature
What does all this accomplish, you may ask?
Well, this increases the levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone which signals to the body that it is time to sleep. Even if you allow your kids to use screens for a bit before bedtime, it may lower the melatonin levels by about 22 percent.
Sleep and kids don’t usually go hand in hand. But with what I’ve just told you, you might get reason and motivation enough to hack your child’s sleep cycle. Just make sure to follow the aforementioned steps, and you’ll be golden!
If you're still struggling, Parvel are about to launch a digital sleep coach within their app, created by a real professional with years of experience helping kids (and families) to better sleep. Stay tuned for any updates and we'll let you know when it's available!