10 Ways Good Sleep Habits Make Kids Smarter, Happier, and Healthier
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Healthy sleep means happier kids. Brace yourself for the cranky mood of a toddler who has missed a nap or the fussiness of an infant who has stayed awake too long. While everyone gets a little grouchy without enough sleep, young children and babies have an especially low tolerance for too little sleep. Recently, a study from the University of Colorado found that toddlers with insufficient naps showed more anxiety and frustration, less joy and interest, and a poor understanding of how to solve problems.
Well-rested kids behave better. Anyone with a toddler who woke up a little too early, stayed up a little too late, or missed a nap knows the dreaded consequences: whines that escalate into ear-shattering screams that make you want to run away and join the circus—if that were an option. One simpler remedy is adequate sleep. In about a third of all cases, sleep-deprived behavior is often misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Lack of sleep can be a safety hazard. A Drexel University study found sleep deprivation can cause cognitive impairment similar to that of an intoxicated person. This possibility seems especially scary for injury-prone toddlers, who turn living rooms into Olympic stages and think nothing of torpedoing off the sofa when you’re looking the other way.
Healthy sleep, healthy kids. Not only does sleep energize our body and brain, it also kick-starts our immune system. In fact, adequate sleep protects children from infections that sometimes plague the rest of the family.
Less sleep puts kids at risk for obesity. Growing numbers of studies link obesity with sleep deprivation. The science points to impaired glucose control and inhibited hormone secretion as the main culprits. Another fact is that kids who get less sleep are often more sedentary and spend more time watching TV, and this lack of exercise often adds unneeded pounds.
Parents need adequate sleep to keep up. Need I say more? You just can’t function well when neither you nor your child has good sleeps habits. You owe it to yourself—and to your child —to keep your family on a healthy sleep track.
A graduate of Cornell Medical School, Rebecca Kempton, MD, became interested in the topic of sleep when her first son refused to sleep day or night—or so it seemed. After much research and conversations with other moms, Dr. Kempton honed her sleep training skills with her next two children. She then became certified as an infant and toddler sleep consultant with the Family Sleep Institute, and she now creates customized sleep solutions for families. For more information on Dr. Kempton and her services, visit babysleeppro.com or follow her on social media: facebook.com/babysleeppro or @babysleeppro on Twitter.