Why is sleep so Important for Kids?

These days, kids are busier than ever. Homework, sports, after-school activities, and sleepovers can all cut in to their much-needed rest. While research points to all people being impacted by a lack of sleep, kids are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of a sleepless night because their bodies and brains are still developing. Read on to learn why sleep is so important for kids and what you can do if your child isn’t getting a full night’s rest.

Why it’s important your kid gets enough sleep

Kids grow when they’re asleep

Your child’s body makes HGH (Human Growth Hormone) while he sleeps, which not only helps his body grow but also repairs muscles, tissue, and bone. This hormone helps your child throughout his life, from triggering those rapid growth spurts in early childhood to facilitating development during puberty and beyond. When a child has a severe lack of HGH, common symptoms are that he’ll be shorter than other kids his age, go through puberty later, and his hair and nails will grow slowly.

Along with getting proper nutrition, getting enough sleep is essential for your child to produce HGH so his body can grow and function its best, especially during times of rapid change.

Kids learn when they’re asleep

Just like adults need sleep to learn, children also need enough sleep to learn. Have you ever had a tough time sleeping and felt that your mind was “foggy” the next day? Or that you couldn’t remember something simple and had to ask a coworker to repeat the information?

Kids experience the same fogginess and forgetfulness, which can be troubling because their brains are still growing and they’re learning new information at a rapid rate. Even just a few days of sleep deprivation can produce issues because their minds aren’t processing information as efficiently as normal, and their brains will have a harder time moving new information (like multiplication tables or state capitals) from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Kids are less likely to become obese when they’re getting enough sleep

When a child doesn’t get enough sleep, she can find it difficult to regulate her appetite because two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are also affected by this lack of sleep. Ghrelin stimulates her appetite, while leptin tells her she’s full. But when she doesn’t get enough sleep, her ghrelin can overproduce while her leptin underproduces in an effort to get her to eat more so she can bring in more energy through calories. At the same time, after a sleepless night she may find it difficult to have enough energy for sports, play, or activities, so she won’t be burning off those extra calories her body is telling her to consume.

Kids are less likely to get sick when they’re getting enough sleep

During sleep, your child’s immune system kicks in to help rid his body of the germs he’s collected throughout the day. While adult bodies do the same, this time of increased immune response is especially important for children because they tend to be in close contact with other children during school or activities who are often carrying germs.

Plus, your child’s immune system is still being exposed to various bacteria and viruses, so he might not have built up a tolerance to them. Getting a full night’s sleep helps his body fight off the foreign invaders so that he is less likely to wake up with a case of the sniffles.

What you can do to help

If you see that your child has occasional sleeplessness, the sleep experts at ZzzQuil can help. Read on for quick tips, but for a more in-depth look, read how to help kids sleep better.

  • Keep a consistent schedule – not just on weekdays, but also on weekends

  • Give your child a break day during the week so they’re not always on the go

  • If your child (who is 4 years or older) has trouble falling and staying asleep, consider a melatonin supplement like PURE Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Gummies, which increases melatonin, a sleep hormone, in their systems to make them sleepy .

Talk to your pediatrician about how much sleep your child should be getting: while it’s different for every child, sleepfoundation.org recommends the following:

  • Newborns should get 14-17 hours

  • Infants should get 12-15 hours

  • Toddlers should get 11-14 hours

  • Preschoolers should get 10-13 hours

  • School-aged children should get 9-11 hours

  • Teenagers should get 8-10 hours

  • Young adults should get 7-9 hours

Consistent and restful sleep is essential for a child’s health and well-being. Browse ZzzQuil’s Children’s Sleep articles to view commonly asked questions, concerns, and tips.

If your child isn’t getting the recommended amount of sleep, or if he or she looks lethargic or foggy throughout the day, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician to discuss what you can do to help.