Cultivating the habit of regular bedtime in children from an early age is vital to their development. You are probably aware of what happens when kids do not get the sleep they need. They may experience weight problems, compromised immune system, decreased attention span, anxiety and more. Sleep helps the body to function in more ways than we can imagine.
Here are a few reasons why a regular bedtime is important for children:
Regular bedtime is important in supporting a child’s growth.
Judith Owens who is the M.D of Sleep Medicine at the Children’s National Center in Washington D.C. stated that growth hormones are regularly secreted while in deep sleep.
Another study done by Jeffrey Durmer, a specialist and researcher in Atlanta, states that children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep that can activate the fight or flight response hundreds of times every night. It was determined that irregular bedtimes do not augur well for cognitive development in children, especially up to 7 years of age.
Sleep helps boost a child’s knowledge and ability to grasp information effectively.
A child may look very relaxed when he is asleep but his brain is functioning all night long to regulate its chemical balance. It has been proven by several specialists at Columbia University Medical Center, that newly born babies tend to learn in their sleep. Thus, having a regular bedtime helps children retain memory.
During the first few years of life, children will start acquiring language skills. A team of researchers found that children who had fewer bedtimes between 6 and 18 months after birth, had poor language skills at age 5.
Sleep also supports the heart’s functions.
Studies have shown that insufficient sleep during childhood could take its toll into adulthood. A regular bedtime is essential in preventing cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases as it helps regulate blood pressure as well as the biological processes such as glucose metabolism and inflammation.
Researchers are also aware of how vital sleep is to the heart because patients with sleep apnea (which causes them to wake frequently throughout the night) often have compromised heart health.
Sleep also helps fight germs.
“When you have got a cold, sleep may be the best medicine!” says Mom.
When a child sleeps, he or she produces proteins known as cytokines, which the body counts on to beat the infection the child may have. A German researcher from the University of Tubingen has discovered that sleep improves the body’s ability to fight off a cold. Sleep strengthens the potency of certain immune cells by improving their chances of attaching to-and eventually destroying-cells infected with viruses.
According to Wendy Hall who is a nursing professor and a sleep professional, it is also important to consider good sleep hygiene as it provides children the best opportunity of getting adequate and healthy rest every single day.
Regulated sleep can also reduce the risk of getting hurt.
Kids are really careless and impulsive when they don’t get enough rest. Regular bedtime basically makes them alert, active and aware the next day which helps enhance productivity.
Regular bedtime aids in increasing a child’s awareness span. Children who always sleep less than ten hours a day before they turn 3 are three times more likely to have hyper and impulsivity problems. Frequent temper tantrums in kids are also associated due to poor sleep. By implementing a regular bedtime, it will help children manage their moods.
Among other reasons why regular bedtime is important:
- To regulate temperament, avoid behavioral issues such as - hyperactivity, being emotionally withdrawn, mood swings & throwing tantrums
- Fewer night wakings, less early risings
- Children learn how to soothe themselves and how to relax
- To prevent obesity later
What time should my child go to bed?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following hours of sleep, based on age group:
- 4 to 12 months -- 12 to 16 hours
- 1 to 2 years -- 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 years -- 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 12 years -- 9 to 12 hours
- 13 to 18 years -- 8 to 10 hours
How Can I Stop Bedtime Battles with My Kid?
Having a bedtime routine and being consistent with it have been helping kids of all ages to sleep better for decades, but one more modern hurdle that is making bedtime difficult for many kids is technology. While technology may be a fixture in many of our day-to-day lives, it is important that parents remember to limit their child’s technology usage before sleeping in order for them to get a good night’s sleep.
Wendy Hall and Elizabeth Nethery, who are authors in child development, figured out evidence on why technology should be limited before bedtime. Studies in Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. proved that the more time the kids spend on their technological devices before bedtime, the less sleep they would get. This happens to at least 50% of the population of kids around the globe. It is a MUST for children at age 3 to have sufficient sleep hours on a daily basis.
These tips below are to further assist in regulating bedtime amongst children:
- Make sleep a family priority
- Set a wake-up time daily
- Build a consistent bedtime routine
- Reduce stress before bedtime with destressing activities
- Check for any sleep disorders and practice the basic steps in sleep hygiene
- Create a conducive and comfortable environment for sleep
- Deal with the child’s sleep troubles by seeking help from professionals when needed
- Set the temperature to your child’s desire
- Have casual discussions on your child’s bedtime
Regular bedtime for children is essential for overall development of the body and mind. They are then able to activate all of their senses which are crucial to their growth and development. By cultivating the habit from an early age, kids will grow to appreciate the need for regular bedtime in their daily lives. It is the best gift any parent can give their child, and they will one day thank you for it!