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How does lack of sleep affect your children?

28 May 2022

Key points:

  • Lack of sleep will affect physical growth in boys and girls.
  • The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on their stage of life.
  • Poor sleep will affect the child’s social and school life.

A frequent doubt that parents of developing boys and girls have is about the correct amount of sleep they should have and how sleeplessness affects their life.

How does sleep help my child?

Dr. Adalberto González Astiazarán, a pediatric neurologist at the ABC Medical Center, indicates that we will sleep a third of the time throughout our lives. During this stage we will enter a rest mode that has two great benefits, the first focuses on helping us recover from the day’s effort, and, secondly, it has a lot to do with generating organization and development mechanisms as neurological functions from childhood to adulthood.

How long is it right for a child to sleep? The most practical thing is to divide it by growth stages, says Dr. Gonzalez Astiazaran:

Newborns up to 24 months. Between 13-17 hours a day.

Preschool up to 6 years old. Between 11-15 hours a day.

School up to 14 years old. Between 9-11 hours a day.

What happens when my child stays up late?

It is considered that a child sleeps badly when he or she sleeps less than 10 hours, a situation that will cause them to be inattentive or distracted, irritable, and less tolerant the next day, it will also be easier for them to have arguments or conflicts than they normally wouldn’t experience, which could lead to social isolation.

On the other hand, there will also be a reduction in memory capacity, which will affect learning and school life.

Rules for sleep habits at home

Dr. González Astiazarán points out that to achieve appropriate sleep, the optimal thing is to create the habit of sleeping and waking up every day at a similar time, thus, we will be able to create the first base to creating a life schedule, but this will be achieved by applying factors that go beyond sleep.

  • Create a calm environment. Not only does the time to go to sleep matter, but the previous moments are also just as important, so we must seek a period of relaxation and serenity.
  • Quiet routines before bed. Try not to have dynamic activities in the moments before sleeping, since they will result in postponing the onset of sleep.
  • Balanced dinner. There are two elements to consider, the first is to reduce the consumption of sugars and caffeine because they will generate more stimuli at night; the second factor is to reduce the amount of liquids they drink before going to bed, to avoid interruptions at bedtime.
  • Encourage a relaxed support. As you want to create a calm environment, we recommend you as parents that the last moments of the day be quiet, through relaxing conversations or readings, avoiding horror stories, fights, or intense emotions.
  • Extend the habits to the whole family. For children, adults lead by example, so the purpose will be that the whole family has a good sleep. How to reduce the use of electronics or screens when parents are using them?

Growth hormone during sleep

Another important issue in pediatric sleep issues is growth hormone. It is produced specifically at the time of dreaming, so if a baby or a child wakes up, it will reduce sleep time and, therefore, the production of growth hormone, a situation that will affect their ability to grow.

In conclusion, sleep is as important for the development of children as it is to be awake and alert, both stages of daily life influence a better quality of life.

This content is for informational purposes and does not replace any consultation with the specialist. At the ABC Medical Center’s Pediatrics Center we can provide you with specialized care. 

Dr. Adalberto González Astiazarán, especialista en Neurología Pediátrica del Centro Médico ABC

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    Dr. Adalberto González Astiazarán

    Dr. Adalberto González Astiazarán


    Formed as Médico Cirujano at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Specialized on Pediatric Neurology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and has a subspecialty in Pediatric Neurology por la Harvard University.

    Medical License: 635170

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