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Sleepy Children Leads to Learning Problems, Mood Changes, and Obesity Risk
Lack of sleep among children may have detrimental effects on aspects of learning, mood and overall health. This is according to several studies done on the role of sleep in children’s health. Several factors cause children to sleep less. Sleep deprivation leads to irritability and difficulty learning in school, obesity and other healthy problems. Just how important is proper sleep among children? Let’s find out.
Importance of Sleep to Children
Sleep is a basic physiologic need. Whether for a child or an adult, everyone needs to sleep. Sleep allows the body to rest and regenerate. During this phase, the body cells and tissues start the repairing process. This is to prepare the body to confront the stresses of the day ahead. The mind also benefits from a good dose of sleep, as this is the time the brain sorts out and stores important information
Sleep is important for kids, as there is rapid growth and development at this stage. Ample hours of sleep provide enough time for the child’s body to repair, regenerate, grow and develop. In fact, growth hormones and other hormones responsible for growth and development are released and work at its optimum level during sleep.
Benefits of Sleep for Children
The mechanism behind sleeping and the things that it can exactly do to our bodies is still quite vague. There are certain theories proposed on the benefits of sleep, especially for children.
- Restoration of Important Body Processes
One benefit of sleep is the restoration of certain physical functions in the body. Wounds, for example, are affected by the number of hours of sleep. Certain studies show that wounds heal more slowly if an organism is deprived of sleep. Children stay active in most parts of the day, most often; they are the ones to come home with wounds and scratches. A good amount of sleep coupled with medications can speed up the healing of these wounds.
- Affects Immunity
Sleep is also found to affect one’s immunity. Sleep deprivation is found to decrease the number of white blood cells in the body by 20%. If the child has less sleep, it can predispose him/her to infections and other diseases.
- Affects Brain Development in Later Life
Sleep is also seen to affect a child’s brain development. Lack of sleep in early years is seen to cause a decrease in brain mass, behavioral problems, and permanent disruption in sleep. Experts propose that for babies and children, sleep serve as an important factor in ontogenesis or the development of an organism from conception to maturity.
What Sleep Deprivation Can Do?
According to studies, sleep deprivation can have the following effects to children.
- Risk for Obesity
Some studies suggest that sleep deprivation among children can predispose them to greater risk of obesity. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, children 7 years of age, who are sleeping for less than 10 hours per night are found to be twice as likely to be obese than children sleeping for longer periods of time.
Although the study stresses that this is only a risk and not a causative factor for childhood obesity or obesity in later life, the importance of sleep and its benefits for children’s health must not be taken for granted.
- Affects Brain Development and Maturation
Lack of sleep may interfere with ontogenesis or the normal development of a child. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can put the child at a greater risk of developing problems such as ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Sleep deprivation can also affect cognitive maturation, which can lead to problems in memory, learning, and logical thinking.
How Many Hours of Sleep do Children Need?
The hours of sleep usually depend on the child’s age. For toddlers aged 1-3 years old, an average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep is enough. Rule of thumb, as the child grows older, the hours of sleep needed becomes less.