Why is sleep important?
As an adult, you know the difference a good night sleep makes to your day. Equally, as a sleep deprived parent you have experienced the feeling of the inability to function and feeling like the world is against you. Over time, sleep debt has been scientifically proven to lead to low mood, depression, poor health and diet, relationship stress, fatigue related accidents, financial challenges and low productivity at work. In comparison to adults, good quality sleep in early childhood is even more profound due to the rapid development taking place at this time.When your child isn’t getting enough sleep, they may also experience other challenges in their lives. For instance, childhood sleep deprivation can result in childhood obesity, depression, ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, diabetes and other long term health problems.
Imagine your child’s brain resembles a sponge which is absorbing absolutely everything that goes on in their world. Increased opportunities for your child to learn and develop mean they are strengthening connections between brain cells which determine their skills and abilities for the rest of their life. Good quality sleep plays a huge role in brain development. When your child sleeps although they are physically resting, their brain is very busy processing all the information it has absorbed during the day. Their brain is similar to a computer which is storing, retaining and organising data, except this process can only take place when your child sleeps. Helping your child to learn how to sleep from an early age positively impacts on their learning, development and academic performance.
You know when you have had a good night sleep that you feel refreshed, alert, and healthy. The same goes for your child and the reason for this is that certain processes take place during their sleep to help them grow, repair and restore. Firstly when your child sleeps their energy is restored and blood supply to their muscles increases meaning that it is the time when the body repairs. Secondly, the human growth hormone is the hormone that determines and stimulates your child’s growth. This includes all parts of the body such as bones, muscles and nerves. This hormone is produced in high quantities during night time sleep, so by ensuring your child is getting good quality sleep promotes healthy growth and reduces the risk of developing growth deficiency related illnesses such as heart and lung conditions, diabetes and weight management problems. Lastly, during sleep your child’s brain produces proteins which contribute to the creation of white blood cells. White blood cells are essential for a strong immune system which protect your child against illness and infection. By helping your child to sleep, you are enabling their immune system to strengthen and reduce the risk of frequent illnesses and viruses.
Happy Parent, Happier Baby
Finally, as an adult you also enjoy all of these benefits of good quality sleep. The main problem is sleep deprivation is an expectation with a newborn baby, however you can start laying the foundations for better sleep for your family from Day 1 of welcoming your new baby. On the other hand, by helping your child who hasn’t been getting sufficient sleep for months or even years, you are reducing your risk of developing Post Natal Depression as well as the same health conditions that you are helping your child to avoid. Good quality sleep as a new parent significantly impacts the parenting experience; waking up full of energy, gratitude and feeling healthy leaves you feeling happy, and let’s face it a happy parent = a happier baby!