Sleep plays a crucial role in the overall development of a child. Adequate sleep automatically makes for well-rested, active toddlers with good growth and a cheery mood. Preschoolers require about 10 to 13 hours of sleep to excel in academics and for healthy development. Studies have shown that preschool sleep is important for children for the following reasons.
- Enhances their overall thinking, reasoning or memory-based skills
- Allows them to learn better
- Helps them reach their full academic potential
- Facilitates a better memory
- Makes them less irritable
A well-rested brain can help students to
- Solve problems
- Concentrate better
- Grasp new information easily
- Stay motivated
- Pay better attention
- Behave better
- Increase alertness
A preschooler’s brain uses these sleeping hours to sort the information they have gathered during the day. It helps them to have longer retention of the knowledge they have learned.
In addition to nighttime sleep, a preschooler requires daytime naps for successful learning and development.
What are the benefits of preschool sleep on a child’s health?
- A healthier growth pattern is seen in children who sleep well. When asleep, their body secretes growth hormone that helps them grow.
- Build a strong immune system in the preschooler. When a child sleeps, their body produces proteins known as cytokines, which help them to fight off infection and illness.
- Regular sleep times are associated with secretion of the hormones that signal fullness after eating (satiety hormone). Sleep deprivation can interfere with the child’s satiety and encourage binging and overeating patterns in kids. Uncontrolled eating can, in turn, lead to obesity in childhood.
What are the repercussions of sleep deprivation in preschoolers?
Less sleep during the first three years of life can have negative repercussions on a preschooler. Children who tend to get less sleep during the early phase of their life can be impacted in the following ways.
- They may be hyperactive. Hyperactivity can cause short-term attention span in children, which can be detrimental to their academic excellence.
- It can increase impulsivity in children, causing behavioral problems and pose health risks. Impulsive children are more prone to accidents. A study has shown that those not receiving age-appropriate amounts of rest are more likely to have serious injuries.
How can I help my preschooler sleep well?
As a parent, you can do several things to establish a bedtime routine to ensure a preschooler gets enough sleep. Follow these tips for setting up an effective bedtime routine.
- Stick to the same bedtime during the day as well as at night. Also, stick to the same wake-up time during the school days as well as weekends.
- Try to establish a bedtime routine. For example, you can switch off the overhead lights and use dim table lamps 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Engage in some enjoyable activities such as reading a storybook or singing a lullaby.
- Make sure the bedroom is quiet, cool, dark and comfortable for sleeping. Use the bed for sleeping only. Avoid playing on the bed.
- Limit food and drink before bedtime.
- If a child has a nightmare, it is ok for them to call out or seek out their parents for comfort. However, parents should avoid sleeping with them after they calm down.
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Cleveland Clinic: "Sleep in Toddlers & Preschoolers." https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14302-sleep-in-toddlers--preschoolers