We cannot overstate the importance of sleep in babies, children, and even adults. Sleep is one of the most important parts of every person’s routine, and it’s inseparable from a healthy lifestyle. Not only is it important your baby receives enough restorative sleep, but it’s also important you are too!
Every living creature needs sleep, and during early development, it’s the primary activity of the brain. Circadian rhythms, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, are regulated by light and dark. These rhythms will take time to develop, which results in the irregular sleep schedules of newborns. From approximately three to six months, your little one will begin to develop their sleep-wake cycle, and by six months babies will have their regular sleep-wake cycle down packed.
The first few years of life for your baby will be the foundations for not only creating important, healthy sleep patterns, but for growth, development and learning, too. Making sure your little one is getting the right amount of sleep, and the best quality they can get, isn’t just important in the short term, but the long term too.
The importance of sleep and its effects have been studied numerous times. From it’s impact on cognition and growth in infants, to the development of self-soothing behaviour, the medical world is obsessed with sleep. It’s been shown time and time again that children who get an adequate amount of sleep will have improved attention, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Did you know sleep promotes growth? Yeah, it does that too! Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Centre, says that the “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep.”
Having inadequate or reduced sleep can have plenty of negative effects, too, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and in some cases, depression.
Sleep is just as important as nutrition, and the two have a linked relationship with each other. It can be easy to neglect one for the other, but keeping a balance and varied diet for your child, plus a healthy sleep schedule, is key to setting your little one up for life.
Not only that, but sleep helps beat germs, too. I know, it’s a surprise, but getting good, restorative sleep consistently can help your little one fight off minor illness with ease. Proteins known as cytokines are used by the body to fight infection and illness. It’s been found that too little sleep impact the number of cytokines on hand, and in studies of adults, getting less sleep can make you three times more likely to develop a cold. While there’s little data on younger children, similar results have been found in studies of teens, as well. So, it’s important for your whole family to get enough sleep.
Having a healthy sleep pattern allows everyone to live to their fullest, so it’s important if you’re noticing difficulty with getting your little one’s sleep, to get the help you need.
This post originally appeared on mynewborn.com.au, and it has been published here with permission.