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How Sleep Affects Children Tucking your kid in bed early is not only a matter of discipline getting him a routine. According to research, sleep actually helps kids become healthier in mind and body. Growth Enhancer No, our elders didn’t lie when they said sleep would make us grow. Sleep is when the growth hormone is mostly secreted. Nature itself ensures that babies sleep for at least 50% of their lives because they need to grow. Research tells us that children who have low growth hormone levels are not as deep sleepers as average kids are.
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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 with sleep disorders go through excessive brain arousal when they actually sleep, leading to the fight or flight response being activated hundreds of times during the night. 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 There is also a direct effect of sleep on weight. 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. Research also says that worn out kids have eating habits different from well-rested ones. Children, just like adults, are also known to crave high-fat or high-carb foods when tired. And when kids are tired, they become more sedentary and burn far fewer calories than their more active friends. Battling Infections Sleep affects a child’s ability to fight infections. When a person is asleep, he produces cytokines, which are basically proteins that fight off illness and stress. With little sleep, a child will have few cytokines at his disposal. 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 there’s still little data on young kids, research on teens has shown that youngsters who slept more were less likely to get sick. Injury Prevention Yes, even a child being likely to get injured can be influenced by sleep. Kids are clumsier and more impulsive without enough sleep, making them highly prone to 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, according to research, an additional 27 minutes of sleep nightly improved kids’ ability to manage their impulses and moods, and made them perform better at school. Lack of sleep was also found to affect kids with ADHD even more negatively.