In the midst of school, extracurricular activities, and the expanding digital landscape, quality sleep is a vital aspect of a child’s well-being that is often overlooked. As a pediatrician, I have witnessed the impact quality sleep can have on a child’s overall health and development.

Quality sleep plays an important role in growth, immune function, cognitive performance, and emotional regulation as children undergo rapid physical and neurological changes.

Sleep is directly linked to cognitive function and academic performance. It enhances memory consolidation, problem-solving skills, and the ability to focus, necessary for effective learning.

Mood and sleep are also connected, especially in the formative years from infancy (0-2 years) early childhood (2-6 years), and middle childhood (6-12 years). Inadequate sleep can contribute to irritability, mood swings, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Sleep is a time for the body to repair and regenerate. It supports the development of the immune system, helping children and adolescents ward off illnesses, keep a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions.

During sleep, the pituitary gland releases the growth hormone somatotrophin, which aids in physical growth. The secretion of somatotrophin is often higher during deep sleep, which is important, especially as growth spurts begin to occur.

To help your child get quality sleep, below are some tips to implement in your own home:

  • Establish Consistent Bedtimes: Create a consistent sleep schedule by setting regular bedtimes. Consistency reinforces the body’s internal clock. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends:
    • Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours
    • Toddlers (1-2 years):11-14 hours
    • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
    • School-age children (6-12): 9-12 hours
    • Teens (13 – 18 years): 8-10 hours
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: A calming bedtime routine signals to the body it’s time to wind down. This could include activities like reading a book or taking a warm bath.
  • Monitor Screen Time: Minimize screen time at least an hour before bedtime to reduce exposure to blue light, which can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.
  • Establish Comfortable Sleep Environment: Ensure the bedroom is conducive to sleep by maintaining a comfortable temperature, minimizing noise, and keeping the room dark. Comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress can also help.
  • Limit Stimulants Before Bed: Avoid giving children caffeinated beverages or sugary snacks close to bedtime. Stimulants can disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
  • Encourage Physical Activity: Encourage children to engage in age-appropriate exercise during the day and avoid vigorous activities close to bedtime.

By prioritizing these sleep tips, parents, and caregivers can contribute significantly to their child’s development, paving the way for a healthier future.

MemorialCare Medical Group Huntington Beach, located on the corner of Newman Avenue and Beach Boulevard, offers family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric care, and urgent care services. The health center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling (855) 693-1847.