When it comes to children, it seems like they can sleep all day. You just have to look at babies to know that sleep is essential to their development. Babies can sleep for 16-18 hours a day when they’re first born. As they get older, they sleep less, but they will need rest more frequently. They’ll have naps during the day to be able to handle the rest of whatever life throws at them.
But why is this sleep so important? Just what is it about growing children that requires extra sleep throughout the day? Here’s a look at everything you need to know about sleep and child development.
Babies and children don’t necessarily need to lose weight.
However, babies and children need to gain a normal amount of weight for their age. They need to regularly put on the pounds, whether they are growing some muscle for the initial steps of life or gaining fat to keep them warm.
Studies have shown that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese. This is the case for both children and adults. One study specifically looked at teenagers, who got one less hour of sleep than average. They were more likely to become obese than their regular sleeping counterparts.
Scientists have found that sleep helps to balance every single hormone in the body. While the growth hormones get a boost, the hormone that makes us feel hungry is subsided. We don’t eat as much when asleep – and not just because our bodies are resting. There isn’t the need to eat. In fact, when you get enough sleep on a night, you don’t feel the need to eat as much throughout the day.
This applies to babies and growing children too. When they get a good amount of sleep, they don’t feel the need to eat constantly throughout the day. They don’t store excess calories, so they don’t gain too much weight. They eat a healthy amount to sustain their bodies and gain some muscle mass.
Of course, the diet factor does require a healthy and balanced diet when awake. You’ll know yourself that eating the wrong foods can still lead to weight problems.
Sleep does help in another area of the diet though. When children get enough sleep, their body is able to react to insulin levels better. Insulin is needed to control the levels of glucose in the blood. Those who don’t get enough sleep have higher blood sugar levels. This is a risk for Type II diabetes. Sleep isn’t a cure, but it helps to regulate the body better.