I'm sure you’ve heard that babies sleep a LOT. Or is it that they need a lot of sleep? I found myself questioning this as a first-time mom and didn’t think twice about the amount of sleep my newborn was getting until my pediatrician asked me. I assumed that she would sleep however much she needed. I thought the fact that she was fussy every day between the hours of 6 pm and 8 pm was "totally normal." I think I remember being told it was “just a little colic.” A whole new world of knowledge opened up to me when I realized my newborn needed 18 hours of sleep, and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually sets guidelines for babies of all ages. Sleep is a crucial factor to a child’s development, and even more so in babies and young children. But why?
A new study presented by the 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that up to 50% of children up to the age of 12 are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Here are the top 7 most interesting facts on why babies need sleep:
1. Memory Consolidation:
Sleep is when memory consolidation occurs. What does that mean? As your child learns new skills as a baby, it is during sleep that he can sensory process and actually master the skill. Think of it as a mental workout.
2. Growth Hormones:
Lack of sleep inhibits growth hormones and can cause a deficiency.
Lack of sleep also affects the ability to metabolize food and impacts the production of leptin hormones which tell a child they have had enough to eat and can, long term, lead to obesity.
4. Better Behavior & Learning:
Sleep improves attention, behavior, and learning.
5. Protection and Safety:
Sleep protects children from vascular damage that stress hormones can cause. "Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night," says Jeffrey Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist, and researcher in Atlanta. "Their blood glucose and cortisol remain elevated at night. Both are linked to higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease."
Sleep helps build the immune system and produces cytokines, a protein our bodies use to fight sickness.
7. Focus & Emotional Regulation:
Sleep promotes focus and emotional regulation. Children with less than 10 hours of sleep under 3 years old were 3 times as likely to have hyperactivity issues as found in a Sleep Med Study in 2015.
At Rested Mama, Happy Baby, our coaching programs will help you create the right schedules that promote and support the sleep your little one needs to grow. This list is research-based and solidifies the importance of ensuring your baby receives the sleep they need, just as you ensure they get enough to eat each day. Learn more about our programs by heading over to our website or following us on Instagram for more FREE tips.
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