What is Sleep and Why All Children Need Lots of It

December 17, 2015, Chennai

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For Parents and Educators| By Shubha Janardhan | June 15, 2015

Your growing LKG or UKG child needs sleep for about 10 hours a night.


 Sleep is more important than you may think. Do you remember a time when you didn't get enough sleep? Your head felt fuzzy, and that heavy, groggy feeling is terrible and, when you feel that way, you're not at your best. See how important sleep is? Imagine how it would feel for your little one if he or she did not get enough of it ?

Why You Need Sleep

The average child has a very busy day. There's school, playing with friends, going to sports practice, music class, drawing class or some other  activities, and doing his or her homework. By the end of the day, your child’s body needs a break. Sleep allows the body to rest for the next day.

Everything that is alive needs sleep to survive. Have your ever noticed how even dogs or cats curl up for naps. Animals sleep for the same reason you do — to give your body a small holiday.

Your Child’s Brain Needs the Zzzzzs

Your child’s body and the brain need sleep. Though scientists are not exactly sure what work the brain does when they are sleeping, some scientists believe that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.

Most children between 4 and 12 get about 9 hours a night, but experts recommend that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some children need more than others.

When your child’s body does not have enough hours of rest, he or she may feel tired or cranky, might be unable to think clearly. Your child might have a hard time following directions, or might have an argument with a friend over something really silly. A school assignment that's normally easy may feel difficult, or your child may feel awkward playing their favourite sport.

There is another reason why children need enough sleep:  If your child does not sleep enough, he or she may not grow as well. Researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your child’s immune system – this prevents your child from getting sick often.

What are The Stages of Sleep

As your child is falling asleep, your child’s brain is gearing for up for some serious action!

The brain is actually telling your child’s body how to sleep. As he or she is slowly falling asleep, your child begins to enter the five different stages of sleep:

Stage 1

In this stage of light sleep, your child’s body starts to feel a bit sleepy. He or she can still be woken up simply during this stage. 

Stage 2

After some time, your child enters stage 2, which is a slightly deeper sleep. His or her brain gives the signal to their muscles to relax. It also tells your child’s heart to beat a little slowly and their breathing starts to slow down. Even your child’s body temperature drops a little.

Stage 3

When your child is in this stage, they are in an even deeper sleep, also called slow-wave sleep. Your child’s brain sends a message to their blood pressure to become lower. 

Stage 4

This is the deepest sleep phase as of now and is also considered slow-wave sleep. It is very hard to wake up your child from this stage of sleep, and if you do wake them up, your child is sure to be out of it and confused for at least a few minutes.  Your child may sleepwalk or talk in their sleep when going from stage 4 to a lighter stage of sleep.

R.E.M.

R.E.M. stands for rapid eye movement. Even though the muscles in the rest of your child’s body are completely relaxed, their eyes move back and forth very quickly beneath their eyelids. The R.E.M. stage is when your child’s heart beats faster and breathing is less regular. This is also the stage when your child dreams!

While your child is asleep, he or she repeats stages 2, 3, 4, and R.E.M. about every 90 minutes until they wake up in the morning. For most children, that's about four or five times a night. Sleep isn’t boring is it ?