The importance of sleep for infants and for us as moms never felt more real to me than when I was living in a constant state of sleep deprivation when my daughter was a baby. I remember those long nights like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget them. If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling that way right now. If your baby is keeping you awake throughout the night, you’re likely feeling some of the side effects of not getting the sleep your body needs.
And as adults, it’s important that we do get our 8 hours of sleep each night (check out why sleep is so important for us as adults). But for babies and children, getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important. So how important is sleep for babies? I want to address WHY getting enough sleep is so important for both you and your baby and HOW to get it.
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Why We Sleep
It’s pretty interesting to think about sleep from an evolutionary perspective. When you really think about it, it just doesn’t make sense. Back in the days of the caveman and hunters and gathers, our ancestors would lay exposed to the elements and predators for at least 1/3 of their life. It’s pretty amazing that we were able to make it to where we are now as a species.
Generation after generation, our bodies never evolved to require less sleep. And I think that’s really a testament to just how important sleep is for our bodies, especially for our children.
There are so many reasons why sleep is important for babies and children. But the top 3 reasons why sleep is important for children is because it helps with their learning, their mood and their health.
How Important Sleep is for Babies Health
Just how important sleep is for babies cannot be overstated. There are so many benefits for your baby’s health that go along with getting the proper amount of sleep, both day and night.
In fact, according to SleepScore Labs, “Scientists now believe that sufficient, consistent, and quality sleep may be key to unlocking an increase in global life expectancy. Research shows that those individuals able to successfully reach very old age – the rare centenarians that live to 100 – generally experience optimal sleep across the lifespan.” So starting your child’s life with that good quality sleep is such an amazing gift you’ll be giving them.
Not only will consistent and quality sleep help your little increase their life expectancy, but it will help them achieve so many more health milestones. Some of the health benefits that go along with getting the proper amount of sleep include:
- Production of growth hormones
- Increase blood supply to the muscles
- Restoration of energy
- Build and repair tissue
- Grow mentally and physically
If you’re not sure exactly how much sleep your baby should be getting, check out my free sleep resources library below.
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Importance of Sleep for Kids
There’s so many upsides of seeing your child get that sleep that they need. But what about the downsides to their health if they’re not getting enough sleep?
Throughout our lifetime, not getting enough sleep can lead to a slew of different health issues such as:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of obesity
- Increased risk of heart disease, heart failure and heart attacks
- Inflammation & hypertension
The importance of sleep for infants and children’s health is very clear. The better your child sleeps, the healthier they’re going to be throughout adolescence and adulthood
Importance of Sleep When Sick
When my children were babies, they went to daycare. And they got sick A LOT! Children get sick. It’s part of life. Whether they’re licking a friend’s toy or crawling on the ground and then sucking their thumbs, there’s no avoiding germs from entering your child’s system.
When your baby or child is sick, sleep is the best thing you can offer your child next to the medication they may need to cure their illness. Your child needs more sleep than they normally would when they’re feeling under the weather.
And that again is because of the magic working behind the scenes when your child is sleeping. Sleep helps to build up and repair your child’s immune system. When sleeping, their body is working hard to produce antibodies and fight infections.
So when your child is showing signs of tiredness, you can always get them down earlier then their normal awake windows or schedule. Do a quick bedtime or nap time routine with the. Get them into their sleep sack, give them a feed in the bedtime routine, read a book or two, then get them down for bed. If your child does feel under the weather, check out our blog on how to keep your child’s sleep on track when they’re sick.
Why Sleep Is Important for Development
Our children need sleep even more than we do. You may be wondering “why is sleep important for development?” Well, without adequate sleep, your child will reach their optimal physical growth potential.
Your child’s little body may look so peaceful and relaxed when they’re sleeping, but there is a lot of activity going on behind the scenes. When your child sleeps, growth hormones are release, helping your child grow bigger and put on the weight their need for their optimal development. Their internal systems are working hard to set the foundation for that development and growth.
And this isn’t just the case for babies. Your child’s body will continue doing this truly miraculous work when they’re sleeping all throughout their adolescence. Our job as parents is to consistently give them the opportunity to get that quality sleep for their mind and body to thrive.
What Is the Importance of Sleep for the Brain
Not only will adequate sleep help your child grow and stay healthy, but it also helps them learn. That’s right! Quality sleep will how your child not only absorb, but also retain information that they’re taking in throughout the day.
Your child’s primary job over the next 18 + years is to learn. From the time they are born, they’re constantly learning from their environment, you as their parents, other children and adults.
When you’re sleep deprived, it’s hard to recall information. I remember when my daughter was a baby and not sleeping well, it was hard for me to remember details from the day before or conversations that I’d recently had.
Your child is experiencing the same thing when they’re not getting sleep. Because here’s what happen with learning and memory. They are actually divided into 3 different functions: acquisition, consolidation and recall.
Acquisition is when we receive information into our brains. And this happens when your child is awake. They’re taking in a lot of new information when those little eyes are open.
Consolidation of information and memory only happens when your child is asleep. In fact, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, consolidation of memories “takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories. The overall evidence suggests that adequate sleep each day is very important for learning and memory.”
So that means that even if your child is exposed to top quality education throughout their childhood or they’re acquiring all sorts of information throughout the day, they’re not going to be able to recall most of that information without good sleep.
Importance of Sleep for Kids Mood
When your child isn’t sleeping well, they’re simply not going to be their best self. I know I’m not. If you catch me in the morning after a bad night’s sleep, it’s not going to be pretty until I’ve had a few cups of coffee.
Imagine a baby or toddler feeling fatigued constantly throughout the day. They’re going to be much more likely to show behavioral issues like frequent tantrums, poor attention spans, and the inability to concentrate to name a few.
In fact, the University of Pennsylvania came out with a study that found even partial sleep deprivation leads to feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion.
Addressing the Problem of Your Baby Not Sleeping
As a baby & toddler sleep coach, I hear from a lot of families whose baby or child just isn’t sleeping. They may be up 5 – 10 times a night and people have told them that it’s normal.
Well as a sleep expert, I can tell you that it is not normal for your child to be up all throughout the night. It’s actually a very seriously problem that is affecting your child’s health and wellbeing, not to mention your own. It’s not selfish to want to get your child sleeping better, it just makes sense. Because sleep is one of the most important things your child needs to be doing throughout their childhood and all throughout their life.
If you’re not sure why your baby is constantly waking throughout the night, find out why here.
Teaching Your Child to Sleep Well
If your child struggles with sleep, you can absolutely help them learn the skills to be an awesome little sleeper. And the good news is that you don’t have to leave your baby or child alone to child it out. You can actually be present as supportive as they learn how to master the skills to a restful sleep.
But if you’re not sure how to do so, that’s what I’m here for. I work with families all over the world teach their children how to sleep through the night and take restful daytime naps using gentle sleep training methods. And I’d love to help your family achieve your sleep goals too.
Let’s hop on a free Sleep Evaluation call so that I can learn a little more about what your child’s sleep struggles are and see if my program is a good fit for your family.