If you have a son or daughter, you’re probably concerned about him or her getting enough sleep at night. Everyone knows how cranky a child who hasn’t had enough sleep can be. In this blog, we’re going to talk about how vital sleep really is for your kiddo and a few ways to work towards a peaceful and restful night every night. If you’re in Arizona and searching for trusted and reputable child care services, contact Valley Child Care and Learning Center for more information about our 10 locations and how they can serve you and your child today!

Sleep Promotes Growth

If you feel like your child woke up an inch taller this morning, he or she may have grown during the night. Growth hormones are only secreted by the body during sleep, and if your child doesn’t get enough sleep, it can actually slow down his or her growth patterns. It’s vital for your child to get plenty of sleep every night to promote growth. Many scientific studies have proven that children that are slower to grow routinely don’t get enough sleep for their age bracket.

Sleep Affects Weight

Your kiddo needs sleep to maintain a healthy weight. You can actually train your child as an infant to start out life overweight. If you’re soothing a fussy baby with a bottle instead of a pacifier or other non-food method, your child may begin to associate food with comfort from a very early age. Studies have even shown that babies who are fed instead of soothed, swaddled, or sang to end up struggling with their weight as they mature. On the opposite end of the spectrum, children who are taught to self-soothe grow up leaner and tend to struggle less.

Sleep deprivation actually reduces the production of the fat hormone leptin, which signals to your body and brain to stop eating when full. Children who aren’t getting enough sleep may struggle to stop eating and listen to their bodies when full. Over time, these kids who are sleep deprived can struggle more with obesity in their teenage and adult life.

Sleep Heals the Body

If your child struggles with illnesses and always seems to have a runny nose, he or she may need to get some extra shuteye. During sleep, the body produces highly-specialized proteins called cytokines, which fight infections, illness, and stress. Too little sleep will severely reduce the production of cytokines, so your kiddo’s immune system could be seriously affected during flu season. As a parent, don’t think that you don’t need sleep, too. Adults who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are three times more likely to come down with a cold if exposed to the illness. It’s best to ensure that both you and your kiddo are getting plenty of rest, especially during cold and flu season.

Sleep Reduces Injuries

As you probably know, your son or daughter can be pretty clumsy during the day. If he or she isn’t getting enough rest at night, that clumsiness could be increased, which can cause more injuries. A recent study has proven that kids who get less than nine hours of sleep per night (the average sleep time recommended for children) had more than two serious accidents, falls, or injuries that required medical attention over a 12 month period.

Sleep Calms Your Child Down

Does your son or daughter experience a lot of meltdowns during the day? If it seems like your kiddo is constantly crying or upset about something, send him or her to bed early. This is especially important if your preschooler is transitioning away from naps or your first-grader is working hard in class and must complete homework every day. Some red flags that will indicate if your child needs more sleep include falling asleep in the car on the way home from school or zonking out during a favorite TV show or movie.

Some Ways to Help Your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep

If you know that your kiddo seriously needs some more shut-eye but you’re not sure how or where to start, here are some ideas:

Routine: If you don’t have a bedtime routine in your home, it’s a good idea to start one. At a certain time in the evening, like 7:30 PM, tell your son or daughter that it’s time to wind down. Turn off the TV, stop using electronics, and begin calming down your home. If you experience push-back from your kiddo, stay firm in the routine. It may take a few weeks to establish a concrete bedtime in your home, but your child will definitely benefit from the increased sleep.

Darkness: Your son or daughter may be afraid of the dark, but it’s best to have at least a semi-dark room to ensure a long night of sleep. Too much light can actually affect your kiddo adversely and make him or her wake up more often at night and take longer to fall back asleep.

No Electronics: Tablets, TV, computers, and phones should be a serious no-no. Don’t allow them in the room with your child, and stop using all devices at least two hours before bedtime.

How Much Sleep Does my Child Need?

Infants-Toddlers Zero-Two: 11-14 hours of sleep per night (not including daily naps)
Preschoolers Three-Five: 10-13 hours (not including daily naps)
School-aged Children Six-13: 9-11 hours
Teenagers Aged 14-18: 8-10 hours

Sleep is essential for adults, but is even more vital for your child. Make sure that your son or daughter is getting enough sleep with these tips, and contact Valley Child Care and Learning Center for more information about enrolling your kiddo in our child care services here in Arizona today!