How much sleep do you get? How much does your child get? Is it enough? Do you know how much sleep is enough sleep? Why is sleep so important? Once you realize how important this basic need is, you will want to ensure that everyone in your family is getting enough.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Obesity
There are studies that show new moms are able to get into their skinny jeans faster if they get plenty of sleep. There are studies that show a high correlation between infants who sleep only twelve hours a day as opposed to the required 14 or more, are twice as likely to be obese by age three. Not overweight – but obese! Obesity is a major health concern, as being obese increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, gallstones, respiratory problems and certain cancers.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Depression
There is a strong correlation between lack of sleep and depression, although it is not known if insomnia causes depression or is a result of it. Normal sleep is restorative. Lack of sleep causes fatigue, leading to increased tension and irritability. When you are fatigued, you exercise less, which creates a vicious cycle of inactivity and sleep disturbance with resulting poor health.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Heart Disease
Lack of Sleep Causes ADHD
A recent study found that children who got less sleep than their peers were twice as likely to have behavior problems in school, including aggression, inability to concentrate or focus – all behaviors of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study also confirmed that while adults tend to act sluggish and groggy when they are overtired, children do the opposite. They speed up. The overactive youngster bouncing off the walls is not one that needs more physical exercise, but one that needs more sleep. This is a growing concern, as American children are getting on average one hour of sleep less per night than thirty years ago.
Lack of Sleep Causes Death
There, that’s pretty blunt! Lack of sleep causes so many health issues, that if you continue to deny yourself the restorative benefits of sleep, you shorten your life significantly. The study used 1.3 million people from all around the world, and found an unequivocal relationship between lack of sleep and premature death.
How Much Sleep We Need
Infants need 14 or more hours of sleep per day. Toddlers and preschoolers need 12-14 hours of sleep. School age children need about 10-11 hours of sleep, with teens still needing at least nine hours of sleep per night. Count backwards from what time your child needs to get up in the morning, to find the right bedtime – but remember to add a half an hour for falling asleep. So, if your preschooler needs to be up by six, so you can get him dressed, fed, and ready to go wherever, and he gets 11 hours of sleep at night (and a two hour nap), count back eleven and a half hours, which makes six-thirty his bedtime. By going to bed at six-thirty, he should be able to be asleep by seven, giving him his necessary eleven hours.
Do the same for yourself. If you need to get up by five o’clock in order to get everyone up, dressed, fed, and off to wherever they have to be, and you need eight hours of sleep, count backwards eight and a half hours, giving you a bedtime of eight-thirty. Sound absurd? How many grown-ups do you know who go to bed before midnight? Maybe you’re already thinking, “How can I get all my work done, if I spend that much time asleep?”
But instead, maybe you should be thinking, “How much more productive will I be, if I am healthier? If I can concentrate better while I’m at work?” Imagine if you never had to take a sick-day off work because either you or your child was under the weather?
There are five basic steps for optimal health. Getting enough sleep is just the first step. I will cover each one individually over the next few days. This post is for your information. If you want to teach your child about health, check out the activities for Health Week.
- Neihmond, Patti. “Lack of Sleep Linked to Later Weight Gain in Babies”. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. April 11, 2008.
- Stein, Rob. “Scientists Finding Out What Lack of Sleep Does to a Body”. Washington Post. October 9, 2005.
- Park, Alice. “Lack of Sleep Linked to Heart Problems”. Time Magazine. December 23, 2008.