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Children’s Sleep Time

Sleep is an important function of life, allowing the brain and body to recharge and be more active and alert the following day. Lack of sleep can lead to long term health problems such as depression. And although the risk to adults is serious, for children the risks of sleep deprivation are much greater: in the long term, their development may be harmed.

Children need more energy in general than adults, because they are constantly growing. When sleeping the body renews energy levels, and this is why children need eight to ten hours a night, as opposed to the recommended seven for adults. For children to have a good night’s sleep it is vital that they are sleeping on a high quality bed.

Added to this need for extra energy reserves for growth are those needed for a child’s typical daily activities. Running in the playground, playing football and constantly moving mean that children are on average more active than adults -and therefore should sleep better at night, in order to keep up their active lives.

Because night is the point at which the brain rests too, in theory in the morning the mind should be refreshed and alert. This is only if enough sleep has been had, however. If a child is sleep deprived they will perform worse at school, and their brains may not develop as well as they could have, which is obviously a serious problem.

A person’s whole life can be affected if they do not sleep enough in childhood, as they will find it much more difficult to perform simple tasks, and to think logically and creatively.

Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of obesity, as sleepy children will be less active in their waking hours and therefore less likely to play out or take part in sports. If children are awake for longer hours they are also likely to consume more food. Obesity, whilst itself a problem, can also lead to other illnesses in later life -diabetes, for example, or heart failure.

If children won’t sleep, there are a number of ways that they can be helped -making sure they are relaxed and that they have not eaten in the hour before bed will make their minds and bodies more able to fall into sleep.

A good mattress may also help; if children are uncomfortable they cannot be expected to sleep well. A foam mattress, bunk-bed or air or water-bed will make bedtime a novelty to be looked forward to.

by: Hollie Wilcox

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