Adequate Sleep: An Important Key for the Growth and Development of the Little One

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The growth and development process of the Little One is highly supported by nutrition and stimulations for it to proceed optimally. However, it is not only these two components that are required. Getting adequate sleep, both in terms of duration and quality, is just as important for the Little One as receiving nutritious food.

The following are some benefits of sleep for the Little One:

Sleep supports the growth process

According to Judith Owens, M.D, Director of Sleep Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC, growth hormones are produced when the Little One is sound asleep. The results of a study by a group of Italian investigators demonstrated that children with growth hormone deficiency were found to not get the required quality sleep time that they need, as cited by the Parents.com website.

Sleep protects the cardiac health of the Little One

Experts continue to show evidence that sleep can protect the heart from blood vessel damage due to circulating stress hormones. “The brains of children with sleep disorders show a lot of activity spikes that can trigger the release of stress hormones,” explains Jeffrey Durmer, MD, PhD, a sleep specialist from Atlanta, United States of America. “Their blood glucose and cortisol hormone levels peaks at night time. Both of these are known to be associated with diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease,” he adds.

Adequate sleep can reduce the risk of being overweight

When the stomach is full, the body releases the leptin hormone that signals an individual to stop eating. Lack of sleep can negatively impact the leptin hormone, and children with a lack of sleep can find it difficult to stop eating. “Over time, children who do not get enough sleep are at risk of becoming obese,” says Dorit Karen, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and sleep researched from the University of Chicago.

Continuous lack of sleep can also affect the emotions of the Little One, making them more irritable, highly active, and experience difficulties in concentrating, leading to learning difficulties. Often, these symptoms are confused with mild attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

So, what should be done by parents if the Little One experiences sleeping disturbances? The following steps can be conducted:

  • Make and implement the same sleeping pattern every day. For weekends and holidays, the time to wake up should not differ much from weekdays. Aim for a difference of only 1-1.5 hours.
  • Create a routine that can relax the Little One before sleeping. For instance, by taking a hot shower or reading a story book.
  • Ensure that the room temperature is comfortable for the Little One and switch off the lights.
  • Avoid placing a television or gadget in the bedroom. If you have already done so, ensure that all devices are switched off an hour before bedtime.

Certainly, with the aforementioned points, parents will further understand the importance of sleep for the growth and development process of the Little One. If the following steps have been implemented but sleeping disturbances still arise, parents can consult the doctor to obtain the appropriate medical management required.

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