Children and Sleep
It has been determined by many professionals that the three most important phases to healthy childhood development are: loving parents or caretakers, proper nutrition and adequate sleep. While sleep may not be as apparent as love, safety and nutrition, it is no less an important factor in proper childhood development.
Children and families in general are much busier today than they were in years past. With increased school and work responsibilities, after school activities, day care and all of the other pulls a family has to endure, naps are missed and sleep schedules overall are not being kept. Naps are being missed, bedtimes are pushed back to later and mornings are starting earlier to accommodate these busier schedules. It may not seem like a big deal to miss a nap or go to bed an hour or two later, but overtime this missed sleep does add up.
Sleep plays a very big role in whether or not children are alert, drowsy, calm or stressed – all of which can play a bigger role in their temperament, social behavior and learning. Healthy sleep – something we all require, but especially children includes:
- The correct amount of sleep
- Uninterrupted sleep
- The right number of naps for the child’s age
- A routine sleep schedule
If any of these are missed, sleep deprivation is inevitable.
When our children benefit from the appropriate amount of healthy sleep, during wake times they will experience optimal alertness – a state which allows them to be more receptive, allowing them to easily interact and deal with their environment. A child who is optimally alert is bright-eyed, calm, pleasant, attentive and with wide eyes will take in all that is around them. A child who is less than optimally alert will have altered states of alertness and temperament.
In order for child to grow, thrive and develop properly, he or she must get the correct amount of sleep, it’s really just that simple. Each child is unique in their needs so learn what best suits your child by paying attention to their behavior with various amounts of sleep.