We all know how good sleep is right? Especially when you have young children. It can make us feel good, it gives us a chance to tune out of the busyness of our day, and furthermore, it gives us the boost we need to keep going.
Sleep, however, is actually even better than we thought. Here a few of the benefits of getting some good shut-eye.
First of all, what are the benefits for children that are getting adequate sleep?
Sleep helps babies grow
Growth hormones are primarily secreted during periods of deep sleep. As a result, babies need to spend about 50% of their time in deep sleep for adequate growth.1
Sleeping helps prevent obesity
Babies who learn to soothe without feeding are less likely to be overweight and have lower rates of childhood obesity. Well-rested children are also typically more active, which helps them burn off calories and develop muscle tissue.2
Sleep helps boost the immune system
While we sleep, our bodies produce infection and stress fighting proteins known as cytokines. Therefore, the less sleep we get, the fewer we produce, and the more prone we are to infections and illnesses.3
Rested babies are less injury-prone
Kids who don’t get enough sleep are clumsier and more impulsive than those who do. Therefore, getting enough sleep significantly reduces the risk of injury.4
Sleep helps babies learn
Adequate sleep has been shown to increase creativity and cognitive ability in newborns and infants. In fact, a 2010 study showed that newborns actually learn while they sleep.5
What about us?
What are the benefits for adults that are sleeping through the night?
Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from a good nights sleep. Mum and Dad are just as likely to enjoy the advantages of getting enough shut-eye. In other words, it’s good for everyone involved!
Sleep keeps you healthy
Adults who get less than 8 hours of sleep a night are at an elevated risk for a whole laundry list of health problems, including hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depressive disorders.6
Well rested parents are more alert
Getting a good nights sleep helps to keep you focused and aware of your surroundings. A recent study from the AAA showed that even getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night can double your chances of getting into a traffic accident.7
Sleep boosts memory
Learning new skills, memorising schedules, and establishing routines are abilities that are going to come in very handy for new parents. Getting enough sleep at night will go a long way to helping them adapt to their new responsibilities and retain the vast amounts of information they’re learning on this journey.8
Sleep helps you stay fit
Sleep debt affects your metabolism and glucose tolerance, as well as your energy levels, which, as a result, can lead to weight gain and all of the health issues that go along with it.9
Furthermore, babies, as you are no doubt aware, require a tremendous amount of time and attention. As a result, sleep is even more important for parents.
Sleep can help parents be happier, more attentive, have more patience, and be more on the ball, rather than just surviving day to day (perhaps dependent on coffee to function!).
Prioritise sleep, because above all, everyone deserves to sleep well! If you are struggling, here are some tips on how to cope with limited sleep.
Need help getting your little one (and you) sleeping through the night?
1 Sleep. 2011 May 1; 34(5): 641–650.
2 Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015 Feb; 22(1): 41–47.
3 J Sleep Res. 2014 Apr; 23(2): 133–142.
4 Sleep. 2008 Jan 1; 31(1): 71–78.
5 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 1; 107(22): 10320–10323.