General image of a innocent girl sleeping with tightly holding teddy bear on bed.

OMO: Why Sleep is Important for Kids

Why You Need Sleep

Sleep is more important than you think. We need sleep to keep us healthy, happy and functioning at our best. Kids, in general, have busy days at school, running around with friends, going to extra-murals and doing their homework. By the end of the day, their body needs a break. Sleep allows our children’s bodies to rest up in preparation for tackling the next day. A child’s brain needs sleep so that he or she can:

  • remember what he/she learns
  • pay attention and concentrate
  • solve problems and think of new ideas

A child’s body needs sleep so that:

  • his / her muscles, bones and skin can grow and develop
  • his / her muscles, skin and other parts can rejuvenate and heal
  • his / her body can stay healthy and fight sickness

On average, most kids between the ages of 5 and 12 years old get 9.5 hours of sleep a night, but experts agree that most need approximately 10 or 11 hours of sleep each night. However, it is important to keep in mind that sleep is an individual thing and that some kids need more of it than others. After a full night of sleep, children wake up ready for a new day of school, fun activities and family time. The body is like a car when your ‘petrol tank’ is full at the beginning of the day and empty by the end of the day, so refuelling every night is essential for proper childhood development and optimal day-to-day functioning.

One more reason to ensure that your kids get enough sleep: If they don’t, they may not grow as well as they should. That’s right researchers believe that too little sleep can affect your child’s growth and his / her immune system.

Sleep Cycles

STAGE 1 & 2

You fall asleep but are not yet in a deep sleep.

STAGE 3

You are in a deep sleep.  Your breathing and heart rate slow down and your body is still.

STAGE 4

Your brain is active and you dream. Your eyes move beneath your eyelids known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This sleep cycle is repeated 5 or 6 times during the night.

How to ensure your kids get into a good routine

For most kids, sleeping comes pretty naturally. Here are some tips to help your little one to get all of the sleep that he / she needs:

  • Ensure that your child goes to bed at the same time every night, this helps his / her body get into a routine.
  • Ensure that your child follows a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath or reading.
  • Limit your child’s intake of foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas and other common drinks, like ice tea.
  • Do not allow your child to have a TV in his / her room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less. If you have a TV, turn it off when it’s time to sleep.
  • Don’t allow your kids to watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime. For obvious reasons, these types of movies can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Avoid letting your children exercise just before going to bed. Encourage them to exercise earlier in the day by playing sports and enjoying other outdoor activities – remember, dirt is good!
  • Ensure that your kids use their bed only for sleeping — not for doing homework, reading, playing games, or talking on the phone. That way, they will train their bodies to associate their bed with sleep.

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