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How Sleep Affects Children Putting your kid to bed early isn’t just a question of routine-setting discipline. Based on research, sleep can make kids healthier both in body and mind. Growth Booster No, our elders didn’t lie when they said sleep would make us grow. It is during sleep that the growth hormone is mainly secreted. Nature takes care of babies, making sure they sleep at least 50% of their time so they can grow adequately. According to researchers, children who have low growth hormone levels usually sleep less deeply than average kids do.
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Experts are finding more and more proof that sleep shields kids from vascular problems because of arterial wall-busting cholesterol and circulating stress hormones. Children who have sleep disorders experience excessive brain arousal while sleeping, triggering the fight or flight response multiples times overnight. Their levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and glucose stay up the whole time. Both are associated with increased obesity, diabetes and heart disease risks. Weight Regulation Sleep also affects weight directly. There has been more proof that little sleep makes kids obese, starting from infancy. When we’ve eaten enough to be satiated, our fat cells make create leptin, a hormone that tells us to stop eating. Inadequate sleep may stop the normal functions of the hormone, so kids may keep eating even when they’re full. It’s also been shown that tired kids eat differently compared to well-rested ones. When feeling tired, children also crave foods that are high in fats and carbs, just like adults. And when kids are tired, they become more sedentary and burn far fewer calories than their more active friends. Battling Infections Sleep has an important role in fighting off infections. When a person is asleep, he produces cytokines, which are basically proteins that fight off illness and stress. When a child doesn’t sleep enough, his body will have less cytokines on hand. This applies to all, regardless of age, and this is the reason adults getting less than eight hours of sleep per night tend to get sick from a cold virus more easily. Although the data is not enough for young kids, teenagers have been shown to be less susceptible to illness if they slept enough each night. Injury Prevention Yes, even the risk of a child getting injured can be affect by sleep. Kids tend to become clumsier and more impulsive when they don’t sleep enough, and this opens them up for accidents. A research into Chinese children showed that those who slept less than nine hours a night needed medical attention for injuries more frequently. Increased Attention Span Finally, research reveals that in school age kids, getting 27 extra minutes of sleep each night improved their ability to deal with moods and impulses, and improved their performance with schoolwork. In kids with ADHD, it was also found that they were more vulnerable to the negative effects of inadequate sleep.