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Written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
28 September 2020

Is sleeping well just as important as feeding well?

Indisputably, giving our kids a healthy, well-balanced, and varied diet is important for their health and development.

But sleep is almost as important as food, if not more so. This is backed up by research.

Sleep experts agree that consolidated (non-interrupted) sleep is the most restful and healthy type of sleep for both babies and adults. If you wake up more than once during the night, it's likely that you'll be tired during the day, have less mental flexibility, and have trouble paying attention and feeling good.

Our little ones are no different. They need to SLEEP in order to work and grow at their BEST.

  • Mood. Researchers have found that children who sleep more at night have a "kinder" personality because they are easier to talk to, less likely to get distracted, and better able to change.

  • Change. Children grow and get stronger when they get enough good sleep. It also helps build muscle and repair cells and tissues. Children who don't get enough sleep are also more likely to be fat.
  • Learning. It has been shown that sleep is important for a baby's brain to grow and for their memories to stick. Several studies have shown that babies and children who slept better at night (spent a larger percentage of the night asleep) had higher scores on tests of their intelligence.

  • Obesity In 2008, the National Institute of Health in the USA looked at how many hours of sleep kids between the ages of 6 months and 2 years were getting on average every day. They then compared this number to the number of obese kids in this age range. Children who slept less than 12 hours a day on average were more than twice as likely to be overweight as those who slept 12 or more hours a day. In the UK, a much bigger study showed the same thing.

With all the health problems and worries about general quality of life that come with being overweight, I think parents should be very concerned about their children's sleep. Yet every day I hear people flippantly disregarding the importance of helping babies and children get good quality uninterrupted sleep - doling out questionable advice to new parents such as " babies will sleep when they are tired", "babies waking up often is normal", "your baby will sleep through the night when she is ready". Babies often do not just miraculously sleep well, without parents leading them and showing them how.

As parents, we all want our kids to grow up healthy and active, and we want to give them every chance to get off to a good start. In addition to nourishing them with the right foods, making sure they get enough sleep will do a lot for their health in the long run.

Article written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Based in Singapore
Trained in the Sleep Sense Program

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