Every mother worries endlessly about her child’s health. Is he eating the right foods? Does my child get enough exercise? Is his school environment safe?
But did you know that there is something you can do for your child, right now, which can dramatically improve his health? In fact, it may be the most important thing you can do for your child’s health!
And the good news is, it’s…
- incredibly simple
What is it? Asking yourself this simple question…
Why is Getting Adequate Sleep So Important?
- Sleep is needed for healthy growth and development. When your child is sleeping deeply, his body releases a hormone, called Growth Hormone. This hormone is important for normal growth, muscle development, and repair of cells and tissues.
- School performance is greatly affected by how much sleep your child is getting.
- Sleep restores and rejuvenates the brain.
- Memory consolidation occurs during sleep, meaning that the different pieces of what we’ve learned during the day come together so that the knowledge can be accessed when needed.
- Without enough sleep, your child will have difficulties focusing, making decisions, and solving problems.
- Not getting enough sleep weakens the immune system and increases your child’s risk of getting an infection.
- Sleep is needed for the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
- Insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar level, is affected by how much sleep you get. Lack of sleep results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, and may increase your risk for developing diabetes.
- When you haven’t had enough sleep, you actually feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested. This is because sleep deficiency alters levels of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full.
- Not getting enough sleep can cause your child to develop behavioral problems and difficulty focusing on tasks.
- Lack of sleep can affect the process of your child reaching puberty.
- Night terrors are often made worse by sleep deprivation.
All of this applies to adults as well, so make sure you are also getting enough sleep! Remember, it is part of the Sunnah to sleep after the Isha prayer.
Ok, so now that you know how important sleep is, how much should your child be getting?
These are the National Sleep Foundation’s 2015 recommendations:
|Age||Total hours sleep (including naps)|
|Birth- 3 months||14-17 hours|
|4-11 months||12-15 hours|
|1-2 years||11-14 hours|
|3-5 years||10-13 hours|
|6-13 years||9-11 hours|
|14-17 years||8-10 hours|
|Over 65 years||7-8 hours|
Some signs that your child may not be getting enough sleep:
- Does your child frequently fall asleep while riding in the car?
- Do you have to wake him almost every morning? Is it difficult to wake him up in the morning?
- Does he seem cranky, overly emotional, or overtired during the day?
- Does your child have problems getting along with others?
- Is your child overweight?
- Does your child have poor growth?
- Does your child always seem to be catching colds and flu?
- Is your child hyperactive?
- Does your child have difficulty concentrating in school or when doing homework?
Follow these tips to ensure your child gets enough sleep every night:
- Make sleep a priority for your child! Even if it means altering your social schedule and leaving that party early. Isn’t the health of your child worth it?
- Have your child go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even on the weekends. I cannot emphasize this point enough, especially here in the Middle East.
- If you allow your child to stay up hours past his normal bedtime, this completely disrupts his sleep schedule. And it will take half of the following week for his body to adjust back to his regular schedule! After just a few nights of lost sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your child is affected as if he hasn’t slept at all for a day or two!
- Many parents let their children stay up late, and then nap the next day. But you can’t really make up for lost sleep. Naps may make your child more alert in the short-term. But he will be missing out on all the other benefits of night-time sleep.
- Practice a bedtime routine which is relaxing for your child. For example, read a story to her before bed each night.
- Be sure your child’s bedroom is quiet, dark, and the correct temperature. A slightly cool room is conducive to better sleep.
- Make sure your child gets lots of exercise and sun exposure every day.
- Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
- Don’t eat heavy meals at least 2 hours before bedtime.