We all know how detrimental a bad night’s sleep can can be to our general wellbeing. At the very least, it can make the following day a real struggle, perhaps make us feel irritable and certainly leave us underperforming. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at how sleep affects babies, toddlers and under-fives. It will be no surprise to hear that a good night’s sleep is even more important for the early years age group.
What are the benefits of a good night’s sleep to children?
Sleep has enormous benefits to the young and old and it has been the subject of many studies. Young children who get a decent night’s sleep are shown to:
- • be happier, have better moods and be more resilient;
- • have better attention spans;
- • be more alert;
- • have improved learning capacity and cognitive performance;
- • have better memory skills (e.g. improved vocabulary acquisition);
- • have improved development of motor skills;
- • have improved mental and physical health;
- • be less likely to be withdrawn, stressed or anxious;
- • have a reduced likelihood of developing high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and depression.
- • What’s more, children’s growth hormone is produced when the child is asleep. This is essential for healthy growth and function of the child’s body, particularly during early infancy.
- • Other hormone levels change when you sleep and this can help with anything from skin repair to muscle mass and even changes to body weight.
These are significant benefits, so high quality sleep — and the right amount — is incredibly important.
“A quarter of children under the age of 5 don’t get adequate sleep” (National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information)
How much sleep should young children and babies get?
Studies suggest the following recommendations when it comes to the number of hours of sleep that children should regularly receive during their early years …
Recommended sleep time
- • 4-12 months old: 12-16 hours of sleep (per 24 hours, including naps)
- • 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours of sleep (per 24 hours, including naps)
- • 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours of sleep (per 24 hours, including naps)
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) / The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)¹
‘Sleep Hygiene‘ is a term that refers to the whole routine around bedtime and sleeping, including important preparation measures during the run-up to bedtime A good sleep hygiene regime will help children get to sleep and to sleep soundly.
Parents can help to optimise children’s sleep quality in a number of ways: … [… READ MORE …]