Why sleep is a vital part of a kid’s ability to learn and grow


With the Daylight Savings time change approaching next weekend, you might be day-dreaming about what you will do with a whole extra hour in your Saturday. Will you use the extra hour for a rare and much needed extended night out without the kids? Or maybe you will snuggle up on the couch and binge watch your current Netfix fave. Whatever you’re doing with the extra hour, Ellie Porter, Editing Manager at SleepHelp.org would certainly recommend that your kids use it to sleep. Guest writer on the blog this month, Ellie, shares 7 reasons why making sure your kids are well rested is one of the greatest things you can do for their development…

Why sleep is a vital part of a kid’s ability to learn and grow

Getting your kids to sleep can be a chore at times. Sleep challenges can arise at any developmental stage from an infant that won’t sleep through the night to a

toddler saying “no” to bedtime to a teenager that doesn’t want to disconnect and go to bed. Even when your kids push back, it’s vital that you ensure they get the sleep they need. Here’s why they need their sleep to learn, grown, and thrive.

1 – Sleep completes the learning process

Your child is always learning new things, and sleep hard codes what they learn during the day into active knowledge. Sleep transforms new knowledge into long-term storage, and studies show the longer and deeper the sleep, the more effective the knowledge transfer.

2 – Sleep grows bones

You encourage your child to eat right and get enough calcium to grow up big and strong, but sleep is just as important. Research shows that growth hormone secretion in children increases during sleep. Quality sleep is the foundation to build strong, healthy bodies.

3 – Sleep normalizes appetite and prevents obesity

When you’re sleep deprived, you make poor food choices – and the same goes for your children. Poor sleep is a common factor in cases of childhood obesity. Rest resets hormones and sets healthy levels of endocrine and metabolic activity – yet another reason to enforce good sleep habits.

4 – Sleep enhances attention span

Poor sleep habits often go hand in hand with ADD and ADHD. The better your child sleeps, the better their attention span should be. Experts recommend limiting screen time in the hours before bedtime to allow your child’s brain to gear down and get a better night’s sleep.

5 – Sleep protects the heart and combats other risks

In both adults and children, lack of sleep contributes to serious health risks including heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. When your child gets good sleep, their body heals, grows, and thrives, nourished from proper chemical signals. Sleep is essential to health.

6 – Sleep reinforces the immune system

7 – Sleep keeps kids mentally well-balancedYour kids are exposed to germs every day – and more so when they’re school-aged. When they get good sleep, their immune system produces cytokines to fight infections. When they don’t get enough sleep, cytokine production drops and little infections can turn into a bigger issue.

Children that don’t sleep enough or have disrupted sleep are at a much higher risk for developing anxiety disorders and depression. Lack of sleep fosters negative emotions and diminishes your child’s enjoyment of positive experiences and emotions.

There’s a lot of research out there on kids and sleep, and it all points to a good night’s sleep as the key to your child’s physical and emotional well-being. Depending on your child’s age, they may need 9-12 hours of sleep a night. To help them sleep better, try these tips:

  • Set a schedule and stick to it

  • Develop a ritual to ease them into bedtime

  • Make sure their mattress is comfortable

  • Ensure their bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet

  • Turn off digital devices 1-2 hours before bed

  • Don’t allow TV or computer in their bedroom

  • Don’t let them eat too late

  • Cut caffeine out of their diet

  • Minimize sugar consumption, especially at night

  • Stick with the rituals on weekends and vacation

Keep your kids happier and healthier by establishing and maintaining good sleep habits at every stage along the way.

Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org

Courtney Burton