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The Importance of Sleep for Children

28 February 2014

Quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development. The ‘achievement’ of sleep is a learned skill, which will aid health, growth and mental function for life. For children, one of the main benefits of sleep is the release of growth hormone, which encourages normal growth and bodily development. Secondly the brain benefits, as adequate sleep aids the process of concentration. It also allows for the making sense of the day’s events, the things they learn at school and the skills they are developing as they grow up. Finally, healthy brain development and emotional/mental health are encouraged by the ‘de-toxifying’ benefits of good sleep.

  • Child Asleep with a Teddy Bear

There’s an increasing body of evidence that shows the damaging effect on children and young adults who get less sleep than they need - from weight gain and depression to poor performance and concentration. In addition, inadequate amounts of sleep lead to a reduction in creative abilities and lower immunity to diseases.  Unfortunately, the increasing pressures of the modern world are leading to decreased sleep times. As a result, parents need to be cognizant of the potential long-term harm of their children not getting enough sleep and not developing knowledge of good sleep habits.1


Sleep Recommendations by Age


Recommended Hours of Nighttime Sleep2

3 years

11 hours (+ 1 hour of daytime sleep)

4 years


5 years


6 years


7 years


8 years


9 years


10 years


11 years


12 years


13 years


14 years


15 years


16 years



Signs your child may not be getting enough sleep


  • They nap in the car, especially on short drives
  • They cannot sit still
  • They have a short fuse
  • They are clingy. Many parents think their tot is sticking to them because she's shy (or loving). Not necessarily! Clinginess and increased dependency can be signs of exhaustion, says Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.


School-aged children

  • You have to wake them in the morning
  • They have trouble sharing
  • They are struggling in school
  • They do not participate in conversation