Importance of rest and night sleep in young children

Sleep is the golden chain that ties your health and body together. A proper night sleep is one of the most important factors in your kids overall development and an essential part of healthy lifestyle. A decent sleep can make a positive impact on your child’s entire day. When your body does not have enough rest or sleep you may feel cranky and irritated but when it comes to kids, the effects of sleep deprivation (insufficient sleep) can leads to many developmental issues. Kids need to get enough night sleep so they can play, learn and perform well. Not just for routine chores, but also for the brain to function at its best, it has to be rested.

Study indicates that people who are exposed to sleep loss usually experience a decline in cognitive performance and changes in mood. If there has been continuous lack of sleep, the brain will function at significantly less power. 10 days of 6 hours sleep, leads to 400% dip in concentration. Most of the kids don’t get enough sleep as they are often busy with school, studies, sports and other activities. Not getting recommended amount of sleep can have unfavorable impact on your child’s behavior (mentally and emotionally). Recommended amount of sleep for any child is influence by their age. Children need relatively lesser sleep as they get older. Here is a general sleep guide:

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Kids Age Sleep time (hours)
New born (0-3 months)14-17 hours
Infants (4-12 months)12-16 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years)11-14 hours
Preschool (3-5 years)10-13 hours
School aged (6-13 years)10-12 hours
Teens (13-18 years)8-10 hours
  • Uninterrupted and sound sleep helps a child to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Apart from this there are more significant benefits attached to enough sleep.
  • Growth: Research has found that the growth hormones is secreted when your kid sleep deep, that’s why rest and sleep is vital for children’s growth. For the kids to grow they need energy. Maximum energy that kids take from milk and food should go into their growth. This is best used when kids are resting or asleep since all the energy is diverted towards growth.
  • Brain development: Sleep boosts brain development. According to a Canadian study (published in 2008 Sleep), children who get less than 10 hours of sleep in night before age 3 are more likely to develop language and reading problems. Kid’s brain stores what they have learned during the day, when they sleep.
  • Health: While sleeping, the brain releases infection fighting protein called cytokines. A good sleep during night also helps to boost your kid’s immune system and fight off invading bacteria or viruses. (Know some foods for brain development of kids)

Just as adequate sleep has its positive effects on kid’s health and brain development, sleep deprivation affects kids negatively. Some of the symptoms of lack of sleep are irritability, increased stressed, forgetfulness, difficulties with learning and memorising. All these can also result in low motivation over time.

Causes of Sleep Deprivation

Emotional factors such as stress and mood disorders

Health issues (like suffering from cold and cough)

Day time naps which delay night sleep routine and REM sleep (important for brain functioning)

Poor sleep hygiene e.g. nightmares or disturbed sleep

Frequent awakening during night or talking during sleep

  • setting up a bed time routine (a regular bed time routine starting around the same time each night encourages good sleep),
  • limited screen time and avoiding mobile phones by kids at least an hour before bed time,
  • dark bedroom and not too distracting,
  • limited bright lights,
  • minimal sound,
  • no caffeine drinks (energy drinks and cola),
  • reading story books also helps kids to sleep deep

Studies suggest that including below mentioned food can help kids sleep well. Sleep is attached to melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain at the onset of darkness, which initiate the sleep cycle. Since melatonin can be found in variety of foods, including them in your kid’s diet can help in sound sleep.

Foods for quality night sleep:

1. Pista

Pista: Most nuts have a good amount of melatonin. Pistachio is among the highest. Melatonin is a hormone that can help to sleep. Pistachio contains 660 ng of melatonin per gram, which makes it hit the sleep inducing jackpot. It is also packed in protein, vitamin B6 and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep.

2. Banana

This beloved fruit is a perfect sleep aid. Banana is loaded with potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and carbs that can improve the quality of sleep and helps to sleep well. It reduces stress, alleviate muscles cramps and regulate sleep-wake cycle by producing happy hormone (serotonin) and sleep hormone (melatonin).

3. KiWi

The other great fruit for sleeping purposes is kiwi. Eating 1-2 medium sized kiwis before bedtime will help to sleep well, longer and peacefully.

4. Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouse. High in fiber, they are also low in saturated fat and a good source of vitamin A, C and B6, as well as Potassium and magnesium. Vitamin B6 not only helps serotonin production (happiness hormone), but also stimulates the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. So, it’s not surprising they are perfect sleep aid.

5. Milk

According to studies, the presence of serotonin (happiness hormone) in the brain can help to calm us down and initiate sleep. Healthy serotonin and melatonin levels in our central nervous system often depend on the presence of tryptophan (a protein found in food that helps with mood and sleep) which is naturally found in both cow’s milk and almond milk. Offering a luke warm glass of milk to your kids before bed time can help kids to fall asleep quickly.

6. Chamomile flower

Another drink thats good for kids is chamomile flower brewed in water. For centuries, it has been used for medicinal purposes to calm the mind and mildly induce sleep.

7. Oats

Oats: Oats contain tryptophan too, which relaxes the body before falling asleep. It is important to get enough of it for good sleep. Oats are also rich in melatonin which makes it perfect sleep aid.


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