The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found a whole host of problems for children (and adults) that are associated with inadequate sleep. Their recommendations are that children ages 5-12 should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep per night! Every parent knows that a child who lacks sleep is very difficult to live with. But, the problems are much more serious than that and may, in fact, last through adulthood. Problems consistently associated with inadequate sleep include:
- Obesity – lack of sleep triggers hormones that regulate appetite and hunger causing children to overeat.
- Diabetes – lack of sleep affects the ability to metabolize sugar and triggers insulin resistence.
- Anxiety and Depression – recent research indicates that lack of sleep increases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Physical Development – highest levels of growth hormone are released during sleep; a child’s height and weight may be affected by lack of sleep.
- Motor Performance – a researcher at the NIH says, “A tired child is an accident waiting to happen.” Play-related accidents are increased in children who lack sleep.
- Academic Performance – children who are well-rested are more alert, attentive, and focused on academic tasks and memory is improved.
- Immunity – during sleep the immune boosting substance, interleukin-1, is released into the body. Repeated nights of poor sleep hinder the immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
There is no question that your child performs better in therapy when well-rested! We would be happy to help you in your efforts to help your child sleep better. If you’re looking for ideas, feel free to talk to your therapist. These websites also have suggestions and materials: