Young girl asleep.

Sleep is an extremely important part of growth and development. When we sleep, we allow our brains to store information, consolidate memory and emotion, problem solve, rest, and recharge. Unfortunately, most kids are not getting enough sleep. In fact, 6 out of 10 middle schoolers and 7 out of 10 high schoolers are sleep deprived.

Here are four key ways that a good night’s sleep delivers important benefits to young children and teens:

  1. Sleep Repairs the Body

  2. During sleep, the body produces extra protein molecules that support the immune system and help strengthen your ability to fight infections and stay healthy. For children, this can be especially important because their immune systems are weaker than adults’.

  3. Sleep Improves Weight Control

  4. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that control appetite. Without enough sleep, your hormone balance is disturbed, which increases appetite. Typically, this imbalance causes cravings for foods that are high in fats, carbohydrates, and calories.

  5. Sleep Improves Overall Mood

  6. Children who lack sleep are often more agitated and easily upset. When your child or teenager loses sleep on a frequent basis, they become more prone to developing a mood disorder like anxiety or depression. It can also lead to substance abuse in the future.

  7. Sleep Encourages Good Learning Habits

  8. When children and young adults are tired, they find it more difficult to think critically, pay attention, and process new knowledge. This makes is much harder for them to learn basic skills and retain information. Sleep provides the energy they need to focus and concentrate.

School-age kids should get nine to 12 hours of sleep, while teens should get between eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. Sleep supports many important body systems, reduces the risk of becoming overweight and sick, while improving attention span to avoid injuries. In fact, teens who are sleep deprived get into four times the number of car accidents as teens who are well rested. If your child fights sleep at night or struggles to fall asleep, talk with your child’s primary care physician about ways to improve sleep.

July 15, 2019 | by Sherri Zorn MD, FAAP