Sleep is no less important than food, drink, or safety in the lives of children. Although this may seem apparent, many of our children might not be getting the critical sleep they need to develop and function properly.

Not having enough sleep is certainly not something we do on purpose. As a matter of fact, we often don't think much of it, and that is the problem. With parents working long hours, schedules packed with school, after-school activities, and other lifestyle factors, naps are missed, bedtimes are pushed back, mornings start earlier and nights may be anything but peaceful. Missing naps or going to bed a little late may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It all adds up, with consequences that may last a lifetime.

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don't, you may not grow as well. Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you're sleep-deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Children who are sleep-deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention and making decisions.


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