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The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for every human being. During sleep the body rests and gains energy that have been lost during the previous day. Apart from that, sleep is necessary for processing and lasting down of long-term memory. It is common that a person who has not slept properly feels exhausted and irritable. Sleep deprivation affects both, children and adults. In case a child has problems with sleeping the parents become worried and even they do not get plenty of sleep. The actual cause of sleep deprivation needs to be found and treated accordingly.

How Much Sleep do Children Need?

Sleep is more important for children than adults. Namely, during sleep pituitary gland produces the growth hormone necessary for proper child's growth and development. Newborn babies sleep for approximately 16 hours per day. Initially they wake up every 2-3 hours to eat and later sleeping becomes even longer. When a baby turns six months it sleeps for 6 hours without interruption. Children older than 1 and younger than 5 years spend half of the day sleeping. And finally, a schoolchild sleeps about 10 hours per day. Even though this is standard data regarding sleep in children there are individual differences in each and every child. Sleeping patterns may be slightly or significantly different from standard and they may resemble sleeping patterns of family members. So before parents become worried about their child's sleep they should compare its sleeping pattern to other family members' sleeping patterns.

What Can Be Done if Child Does Not Sleep Properly?

It is normal for babies to wake up after a few hours because they are hungry and need to be fed. Once their stomach becomes big enough to receive more mother's milk the baby will sleep longer. When the baby grows a bit, in case it starts to wake up at night and does not want to eat, parents should not turn the lights on, talk to the baby or even play with the child. This can be counter-productive, completely wake up the child and become a habit. Such behavior will only cause the change in sleeping patterns and the child may replace the day with night. In case there are additional problems (prolonged crying with no apparent reason, irritability etc.) parents should consult a child's pediatrician.

And finally, it is essential not to use any maneuvers which can accelerate child into sleep. This can only make the child become addicted to such actions and each time he/ she wakes up parents will have to perform the same activity so that the child may continue sleeping.

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