Sleeping well is very important at any stage of life. During rest, the body maintains its functions and “orders the house.” In childhood, it could not be different. Children who sleep poorly are more likely to develop inflammatory diseases, including obesity.
Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to imbalances in young children’s cognitive and behavioral systems, two essential aspects of healthy development.
This is suggested by a Brazilian study carried out by researchers from the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo (USP). To reach the result, the group brought together 199 children from 5 to 7 years old from São Paulo (SP) and Fortaleza (SP).
Children who sleep poorly also get less than the recommended hours of sleep
The ideal rest time does not always correspond to the quality of sleep. However, in addition to lack of sleep, more than half of the children in the study were resting below expectations for their age.
To look at the effects of sleep deprivation on people, the scientists timed their sleep and measured their waist circumference to determine their inflammatory profile.
Rest was monitored using an accelerometer, a device that rates activity and rest. For seven straight days, the children lived with the device.
In addition, the children underwent blood tests to check for the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP). The test helps verify susceptibility to infection. As a result, the average values reached 1 mg/L, higher than the parameter, which is less than 0.3 mg/L.
Therefore, waist circumference, test results, and an average sleep time of less than six hours were needed to highlight the health risks for young children.
In addition to obesity and possible cognitive changes, children are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
How much sleep do children need to be healthy?
To arrive at the figures recommended by the study, the USP researchers relied on the schedule of the National Sleep Foundation (NSL). The article provides sleep recommendations by age group. In the case of the children who participated in the experiment, who were between 5 and 7 years old, the ideal ranged between 8 and 12 hours per night. Below, check out the suggested rest by age group at each stage of life, according to the NSL:
- 0 to 3 months: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours
- 1 to 2 years: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 3 to 5 years: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- From 6 to 13 years old: from 9 to 11 hours
- From 14 to 17 years old: 8 to 10 hours
- From 18 to 25 years old: 7 to 9 hours
- From 26 to 64 years old: 7 to 9 hours
- 65 years and older: 7 to 8 hours
How Does the Body of Children who Sleep Badly React?
Above all, it is important to clarify what “bad dream” means. As we said, the number of hours does not necessarily indicate a good night’s sleep. Adequate rest is one in which the body enters all sleep cycles without interruption, from the light phase to the deep one, which breaks through during the night.
When we wake up at times frequently—for example, getting up often to go to the bathroom, noisy, etc.—the action is recognized by the body as a threat. Quickly activates the stress mechanism that produces inflammatory components and makes it difficult to rest.
In practice, the effects of sleep restriction affect not only their physical health, but also their ability to focus, learn, and perform essential activities at this time in their lives.
How to improve children’s sleep?
Through this research, we have looked at how sleep affects health or disease. Unfortunately, people slept badly. A survey carried out by IBOPE at the request of the pharmaceutical company Takeda analyzed the sleep of Brazilians and the search for medical help to sleep better.
The study was called the Brazilian Sleep Map and listened to 2,365 people over the age of 18, from seasons A, B and C. Overall, 65% of respondents experienced sleep deprivation at various levels. However, few of them do anything to improve the situation. Only 7% seek medical help in this regard.
Anxiety, stress, and an unhealthy lifestyle are some of the factors that contribute to this condition. Children are affected in this way just like adults.
Therefore, establishing a consistent routine, with activity schedules, may be the first step in adjusting your sleep cycle. Here are some tips to improve the quality of life of the little ones (and maybe yours too):
- Limit electronic equipment (especially smartphones and computers) for at least two hours before bed.
- Encourage relaxation activities, eg listening to music, reading a book, taking a warm bath at night.
- Suspension from emotionally exciting television shows and movies (such as horror movies, violence, etc.).
- Provide light meals so as not to overload the digestive process and thus improve comfort.
- Finally, set a regular bedtime, even if the child isn’t sleepy.