10 Mighty Reasons for Calling in An Early Trip to Dreamland
October 20, 2016
The importance of sleep for kids is a topic that has been endlessly discussed by health professionals worldwide. With this supposed familiar knowledge, you’d think parents are now encouraging, if not obliging their children to hit the hay early each night. But statistics reveals otherwise.
National Sleep Foundation on its study about sleep in the modern family reveal that about 30% of kids under 11, and more than half of teens, get less sleep than recommended. Perhaps this is because around 64% of kids from first to fifth grades go to bed later than 9 p.m. When sleep loss becomes a part of your kids’ system, they will face serious health risks that may affect them for a long time. Here are 10 proven reasons that will make you tuck your kids to bed early tonight.
1. Attention and motor skills: Better focus and less distraction
Studies about memory and attention have established the correlation between children’s sleep duration and their test performance. A study in Japan found that two-year-olds who slept early at night had a 62% decreased risk of attention problems when they reach the age of 8. Compared to kids who had irregular or late bedtimes, they are also 81% less likely to have aggression issues. The Journal of Pediatric Psychology further supports this as they have also found that kids sent to bed an hour earlier each night for 4 nights showed signs of improved short-term memory, working memory, and attention skills compared to those who slept an hour later than usual.
2. Obesity and metabolic health: Lower risk of being overweight
Do you find the link between bedtime and body mass index surprising? If you really come to think of it, it somehow makes sense that your kids are more likely to be obese when they sleep later at night. Although the direct relation between the two is still unclear, there is some speculation as to the role that hormonal changes in the body play in weight gain.
The Journal of Pediatrics found that preschool-aged children with early weekday bedtimes were only half as likely to be obese when they become adolescents. This proves the importance of establishing and maintaining a proper sleep schedule in the early stages of childhood. Obesity prevention should be one of the reasons for letting your kids sleep early.
3. Sleep-related issues: Warding off other sleep problems
It’s your responsibility as a parent to create routines that will allow your children to achieve their physiologic needs. Putting your kids to bed early will increase their likelihood of having a restorative sleep.
Regular bedtime routines can be associated with greater sleep duration, reduced sleep latency, and fewer nighttime awakenings. To better avoid sleeping problems, you still have to create a conducive sleeping environment for the kids. Make sure that the kids’ foam bed is comfortable enough, and the room lighting has the right warmth and glow. If you’re not sure what kind of mattress is good for your kids, you can leaf through the different types of Uratex foam and mattresses for sleep health that will give your children the long, restful sleep they need.
4. Cognitive performance: Improved daytime functioning
One of the early bedtime benefits that you can expect for your children is improved cognitive performance. Your children will develop stronger mental processes that will reinforce their perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning abilities. Subtle differences in sleep duration can leave an impact on your children’s daytime functioning. Consistent sleep schedules have been associated with better entrained circadian rhythms. They are also related to homeostasis and brain plasticity, which include processes that help in acquiring new knowledge and developing neural assemblies.
5. Immune protection: More active defense mechanisms
There’s no denying that an early bedtime is best for kids’ health. When your kids go to bed early, they get more sleep time, which allows their immune system to achieve better protection. Since restrictions in sleep can lead to a decreased antibody production, you must keep your children safe from flu, common colds, and other diseases by sending them to bed at an earlier time.
6. Mood and behavior: Positive humor throughout the day
Dr. Judith Owens from Hasbro Children’s Hospital said, “Lack of sleep can have really devastating consequences on the child’s mood and performance.” And indeed, she can’t be any more right. The amount of sleep you get and your mood levels the day after are directly connected.
In a 2012 interventional study by the Journal of Pediatrics found that kids sent to bed an hour earlier for five nights were less irritable and impulsive than usual. Kids are more fun to be around when they’re getting the right dose of sleep.
7.Verbal creativity: Refined abstract thinking
Can sleep affect creativity? This question has been asked a hundred times, and there is at least one scientific study that can offer a legit answer.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information cited a study on the cognitive and psychomotor performance of children aged 10 to 14 after sleep loss. Based on the findings, you may expect negative changes in your kids’ verbal creativity, fluency, and flexibility when they don’t get enough sleep. You may also observe them having trouble in learning new abstract concepts.
8. Cardiovascular health: Better protection for the heart
If you’re still on the fence about why kids should go to bed early, perhaps you’ll be convinced once you learn the effects of reduced sleep to cardiovascular health. The Canadian Medical Association Journal found that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life. As the study’s lead author, Dr. Indra Narang, said, “We found an association between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular risk in adolescents, as determined by high cholesterol levels, increased BMI [body mass index] and hypertension.”
9. Anxiety and depression: Improved emotional health
Sleep affects not just the physical aspect of health, it transcends even to the emotional facet. In fact, the lack of it is a possible cause of depression. According to Dr. Gangwisch, “Inadequate sleep is a risk factor for depression, working with other risks and protective factors through multiple possible causal pathways to the development of this mood disorder. Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventive measure against depression and a treatment for depression.”
10. Math fluency: Enhanced mathematical skills
For the last time, why is sleep important for children? Research has found that math fluency can be linked to sleep duration and quality.
The University College London found that irregular sleep schedules and frequent late nights are associated with worsening performance in reading and in math. “At first glance, this research might seem to suggest that less sleep makes children less intelligent,” said Dr. Robert Scott-Jupp of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. “However, it is clearly more complicated than that. While it’s likely that social and biological brain development factors are interrelated in a complex way, in my opinion, for schoolchildren to perform their best, they should all, whatever their background, get a good night’s sleep.”
Despite the abundance of information about sleep, many still seem to be struggling to develop healthy sleep habits. Sleep loss is still prevalent among children and teens, and it even carries over to adulthood. For everyone’s benefit, this trend needs to stop soon. As Dr. Mary Carskadon, director of the Chronobiology and Sleep Research Laboratory at Bradley Hospital, observed, “If kids don’t get enough sleep, it affects the whole family’s quality of life.” So start taking sleep seriously. Get your kids to bed early each night, and let them have the full, restorative and enchanting sleep they deserve to be healthy kids and fully functional adults in the future.