Lack of sleep is detrimental to child development

With school, sports,  extracurricular activities and homework, it’s no wonder children don’t get enough sleep. The busy schedules of children can crucially affect a  child’s healthy growth.  Many children are not getting enough sleep at night. This lack of sleep has a negative effect on a  child’s health. A good nights sleep is crucial in many ways for a  child’s health.

Why is a good nights sleep crucial for a child’s health? Lack of sleep can cause a child to become groggy and sleepy during the day. Your child may also develop memory problems and have trouble thinking and concentrating. If you have a school age child, lack of sleep can have a negative effect on school performance.

Provides adequate “rest” for the brain

A child’s brain works hard all day and therefore, needs to rest during sleep. During deep sleep, the brain “shuts down,” getting the rest it desperately needs. Blood flow is reduced, and energy use decreases in the brain during deep sleep allowing it to “rest up” for the following day.

Decreases risk of obesity

Sleeplessness can increase a child’s chance of developing weight gain and obesity. A child who develops weight gain and obesity has an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and heart attack as they grow into adulthood.

Enhances normal growth

Growth hormone is released during slow wave sleep. Protein, the building blocks needed for cell growth, are produced and broke down during deep sleep. These actions can cause an interruption in a child’s growth spurt and also decrease healing of any injury in a child’s body.

Increases risk for diabetes

Lack of sleep affects the absorption of glucose by the body and also causes an increase in ocytocin and low grade inflammation. This can affect insulin resistance causing an increased risk for diabetes in a child. A child who misses even two hours of sleep a week can increase their risk of diabetes.

Increases behavioral problems

Lack of sleep can cause a child to become irritable and even argumentative. Lack of sleep can also be the cause of conditions such as attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Lack of sleep increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that if increased, causes symptoms of anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in children.

 Lack of sleep can have crucial effects on a child’s healthy growth. Making sure your child gets enough sleep is imperative to his/her health. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep or is having problems sleeping, make an appointment with the pediatrician to find out if your child has a condition such as sleep apnea that is causing sleep deprivation.

If your child is healthy but still not getting enough sleep, there are many things you can do to help him get the sleep he needs for optimum health. Visit the University of Michigan web site for information on how to help children get the right amount of sleep for their healthy growth.