Most people know that sleep is critical for optimal health, and this is especially true for children whose brains and bodies are growing and developing. While sleep is important, parents may find that it sometimes isn’t a priority. With busy schedules and extracurricular activities, bedtime may be pushed later and later, especially as kids get older and must balance sports practices, involvement in clubs, and a more demanding homework load. With everything going on in life, it may be tempting to let sleep fall by the wayside, but the reality is that sleep deprivation has consequences for children of all ages. In this article, we discuss the adverse effects of lack of sleep on child development.
- How Much Sleep do Kids Need?
- Consequences of Inadequate Sleep Among Children
- Ensuring Children Get Adequate Sleep
- Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Children
- Aricove Weighted Blankets for a Better Night of Sleep
How Much Sleep do Kids Need?
Adequate sleep is necessary for children, but the exact amount that each child needs varies based upon their age. According to the latest research and expert recommendations, the sleep needs for various age groups are as follows:
Newborns: 14-17 hours/day
Infants: 12-15 hours/day
Toddlers: 11-14 hours/day
Preschoolers: 10-13 hours/day
School-aged children: 9-11 hours/day
Teens: 8-10 hours/day
Most healthy children will fall within these ranges, and deviating too much from these recommendations can lead to worsened health and problems with daily functioning. Keep in mind that some kids may need even more sleep. For example, young athletes need to ensure that they get sufficient sleep to reduce the risk of illnesses and traumatic sports-related injuries.
Consequences of Inadequate Sleep Among Children
The effects of lack of sleep on child development are well-known, but a study in Sleep Disorders found that 13.6% of children receive sufficient sleep fewer than five nights per week. This is unfortunate, given the numerous negative effects that are seen when children are not getting the rest they need.
If you are wondering, “How does lack of sleep affect children’s health?” consider the following:
- A study in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that when teenagers restricted their sleep to 6.5 hours as opposed to a healthy 10 hours, they were more irritable and angry, as well as more anxious and tense. They also experienced confusion, fatigue, and difficulty regulating their emotions when they were sleep deprived.
- Research in Developmental Neuropsychology found that when school-aged children were deprived of one hour of sleep per night over the course of a week, their brain functioning was negatively affected.
- One study found that when teens got only six hours of sleep per night for five nights, they demonstrated delayed reaction times, showing that sleep deprivation also negatively affects brain functioning in teens.
- An analysis of 42 different studies concerned with the relationship between sleep and weight among children found that babies, children, and teens are all at significantly higher risk of becoming overweight or obese if they do not get sufficient sleep.
- A study in Pediatrics showed that children who had sleep issues were more likely to have problems with neurological functioning during their teenage years.
- A body of research shows that sleep deprivation is linked to worse academic performance, and it negatively influences the prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain involved in planning, decision making, controlling emotions, and maintaining attention.
What these studies make clear is that the effects of the lack of sleep on child development include worsened brain functioning, poor academic performance, emotional problems, and even weight-related problems like obesity. Children, whose brains and bodies are constantly developing and changing, may not learn as well when they do not get adequate sleep, and they are less likely to experience optimal health and functioning.
Ensuring Children Get Adequate Sleep
If you are worried about how lack of sleep affects children’s health, you are probably also interested in what you can do to ensure that your own children get plenty of sleep. To begin with, you can assess their schedule and determine how much sleep they are routinely getting. Once you have done this, you may have to adjust to allow them to get more sleep to fall within the ranges of sleep that experts recommend. For instance, you may consider cutting out late night activities or requiring children to turn off the TV by 8:00 pm so they are not staying up watching their favorite shows.
It is also important to take steps to make bedtime a relaxing time of day to help kids settle down for sleep. Experts recommend creating a regular bedtime routine, limiting screen time in the evening, and keeping a consistent bedtime and wakeup time, even during the weekends.
Creating a comfortable, relaxing sleep environment is also beneficial. One way to achieve this is through the use of weighted blankets
Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Children
A weighted blanket can calm the nervous system and help children to relax for sleep, especially if they are restless at night and having difficulty falling asleep. In fact, research with children with autism, sensory difficulties, and sleep disturbances shows that weighted blankets can have a positive effect and improve sleep quality. If your child struggles with getting adequate sleep, and making adjustments to their schedule and routine has not resolved the problem, it may be time to consider using a weighted blanket.
Aricove Weighted Blankets for a Better Night of Sleep
When you’re ready to consider a weighted blanket to help your children sleep better, Aricove offers a weighted blanket for kids. Our 5 lb weighted blanket is appropriate for ages two and up and can help children who struggle with anxiety, ADHD, nightmares, or insomnia. The white weighted blanket is made from premium bamboo fabric and is safe for sensitive skin, so children who have eczema or other dermatological conditions can still enjoy the comfort of these weighted blankets.