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Good Sleep Means Great Growth

11/06/2013 | Child Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

 It’s bad enough waking up after too little sleep as an adult. The scratchy eyes, feeling irritable and just wanting to crawl back into a nice warm bed and you understand what’s making you feel that way. For young children they experience just the same and don’t know why they feel that way – small wonder then that tantrums will not be far away if they have had too little sleep. Do you need any other reason to make sure they get enough of the “s” stuff?  Just to make the point here are a few other really important reasons that underline how good sleep means good growing.

If your child does not get enough sleep their bodies are not as capable of dealing with the impact as ours are. Amongst the many problems that can arise is a problem with weight gain. Control of hormones is one of the things that is known to suffer and this can have an impact of growth in general and specifically in appetite. Children can suffer from loss of appetite to an over stimulated desire to eat, either of which can be bad for long term growth and health.

Deep sleep, more often referred to as slow wave sleep is the sleep that makes you feel especially groggy when you wake up because the body has not completed the full sleep cycle. It is also known that this particular phase of sleep is when the body secrets the growth hormones that are so important from birth onwards. For a child to grow they need the hormones, secreted by the pituitary gland as well as the energy and opportunity to put them to good use. During deep sleep your little ones body is not using energy to maintain its wakeful state so all of that energy can get diverted to support the growth hormone s and make growth happen.

Of course, these sort of problems can  occur if children don’t get the right sort of sleep.  To be truly beneficial sleep needs to be slow wave sleep. For some children this can cause problems with a condition known as sleep apnea. A child suffering from this condition will have breathing problems and it is quite likely they will experience temporary problems with their breathing. The brain compensates for this by moving away from deep sleep so that it can exert more control and establish normal breathing bit it does mean that growth problems may occur in the long run. Spotting sleep apnea in children is not easy but look out for signs of irritableness and grogginess’ first thing in the morning.  You should also listen out for snoring problems – don’t blame the other half, it may be one of the kids because snoring is a sign of sleep apnea.

The old wives tale that says lack of sleep stunts your growth may be a little closer to the truth than we once thought. One rough night for a child will not mean problems but if adequate sleep is not provided in the long term there is a risk of growth problems. Good sleep really does mean good growing so if your bundle of joy does not appear to be making the most of their sleep time look to your routines and if there is still not improvement then a visit to your doctor would be a good idea.


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