The human body is a complex machine, and like all modern technology, it requires time to shut down, update, and recharge. That is where the importance of sleep comes in!
Our brain needs time to repair any damage done to our body throughout the day and back up all of the information we take in. It also has to recharge our heart and muscles to get ready for the next day while keeping our immune system in check!
Quality sleep is necessary for good health. In this article, we are going to talk about the benefits of good sleep and the consequences of not getting enough sleep for your kids.
We will also talk about how to spot sleep deprivation in your kids and how to help them rest up for all of their daily activities. Let’s get started!
Importance of Sleep
When we sleep, our bodies are not just turned off and relaxing. A LOT of things are going on inside of us! Our bodies are restoring energy where we need it most, tissue growth and repair takes place, and essential hormones like growth hormone are made.
Therefore, sleep is necessary for healthy growth and development.
While sleep is essential for all ages, it is especially important for children and teens! They are growing so fast and learning new things every day.
Without sleep, kids do not learn as well and get sick much easier than the other children that get the recommended amount of sleep!
If they play sports and are active (which describes most children), then they need sleep to repair their muscles and get stronger!
The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
A severe lack of sleep has a huge impact on our performance. Kids will do worse in school and on the playing field! This can be dangerous, too. Lack of coordination due to sleep deprivation could cause your child to make a wrong move or have delayed reactions in their sport, which may lead to sports injuries.
Not getting enough sleep also impairs judgment, and can affect your children’s decision making, behavior, and ability to handle stress. This can further affect their social lives, which causes a snowball effect and leads to more problems down the road. They will be irritable, quick-tempered, and have mood swings.
For your older teens that can drive, sleep deprivation increases their chances of getting into a car accident or falling asleep at the wheel. So yes, a lack of sleep can be deadly for your teens, and it is a serious issue!
Not getting enough sleep also affects hormone production in your body, causing weight gain, breakouts, and other unhealthy consequences. Do we have your attention yet? Sleep deprivation has serious consequences, and it should not be taken lightly!
Spotting Sleep Deprivation
As parents, it is our responsibility to look after our children. So we have to know how to spot a lack of sleep! Other than physically seeing your child going to bed late or getting up in the middle of the night, you can spot sleep deprivation by looking out for these symptoms:
- Slow reaction time, lethargy
- Lack of motivation
- Increased frequency of getting sick
- Mood swings, irritability
- Trouble focusing
- Memory loss
- Increased appetite
- Weight Gain
- Skin issues and breakouts
- Impaired motor skills
- Falling asleep during the day
- Poor performance in school
Pay close attention to your child and make sure they are getting enough sleep because the consequences are harmful!
How to Help Children Get Better Sleep
Now that we know a little more about sleep and how to spot sleep deprivation, how do we help our kids get more sleep? Here are some tips for better sleep.
1. Establish a Sleep Schedule / Bedtime Routine
Our bodies work on a cycle, and bedtime should be routine. Children and adults both need bedtimes, and they should stick to a sleep schedule. Over time, kids will form a habit and get tired at the same time every night. They will also be more alert in the morning and wake up without the need of an alarm clock!
2. Limit Technology Before Bed
The glow from electronic screens prevents the brain from making the sleep-inducing hormones, so keep those away for an hour before bedtime! Instead of reading Facebook, tell them to try reading a book for better sleep results.
3. Ensure Bedroom is Dark, Cool, and Quiet
Make sure that their bedroom is completely dark at night. Even with our eyes closed, the slightest bit of light can prevent us from achieving deep sleep.
Temperature also matters! The room should be cool, and feel like the perfect temperature under the covers. Silence is best, but noise-sensitive people should use a fan or a white noise machine to help them sleep. Finally, a weighted blanket can help those with anxiety or trouble sleeping.
4. Limit Caffeine
Excessive caffeine intake from coffee beverages, energy drinks, and soda can prevent your children from falling and staying asleep. These should be limited to the morning hours or removed from your child’s diet altogether!
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that children under the age of 12 should not be consuming any caffeinated drinks.
Even if they consume caffeine hours before bed, it can hurt their sleep cycle. Be sure to keep an eye on your child’s caffeine intake and see how it affects their sleep!
Sleep is necessary for optimal health, performance, and growth. We all need quality sleep, but children and teens especially need to meet their sleep requirements for them to grow and develop.
Sleep deprivation is an epidemic, and it is becoming more common in kids. Parents need to do their part in helping kids get better sleep. If you see a persistent sleep problem in your kid, do not be afraid to seek medical help!
Sleep conditions are common and easily treatable, and getting a doctor’s advice may help avoid other issues caused by a lack of sleep