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Why children need more sleep

Some say sleep is the best form of meditation. What we do know is that there is a strong link between sleep and wellbeing. When young people struggle with sleep it can start to affect them physically and mentally. They might struggle to concentrate, seem irritable, start getting bad grades in school, or not want to go to sports practice. Lots of children go through phases where they have a hard time nodding off, but there are things you can do to help and put a stop to those restless nights.


Sleep importance

Why is sleep important? 

Sleep is important for all of us, but it is even more so for children and young people. While there are some short term effects, such as drowsiness and low mood, there are also long lasting more physical impacts when children, in particular, don’t get enough rest.  

Deep sleep is where an estimated 75% of human growth hormone is released. This is also released during exercise. A single night of no sleep will not stunt a young person's growth. But in the long term it could be affected. 

Young boy looks at mobile phone while in bed

Children and sleep

On top of this, sleep helps keep us healthy. When we sleep, our heart rate and blood pressure go down, meaning our hearts get time to rest and replenish. It also helps the body produce proteins used by the body to fight infection, illness, and stress.   

From school classes to discovering who they are and what they like, children are always learning. Their brains make sense of these things when they sleep. That is why lack of it can make them more forgetful. In fact, there are some studies which show that we can actually learn new things while we sleep! 

Sleep hygiene

Teenage girl sleeps on her side in bed

Sleep hygiene

Sleep Hygiene is just a fancy term for describing habits and strategies for getting a good sleep on a regular basis. It’s not only about what children do at bedtime, there are lots of things you can do to help them sleep better. 

Good sleep hygiene begins in the day. Things like what your child eats and drinks and when can make a real difference. Caffeine for instance, is a stimulant and could be causing a child to stay awake later than they should. It is found in most energy drinks, tea and coffee. 

sleep journal

We need to eat healthy, balanced diets to keep our bodies and minds in shape, so the impact food can have on sleep will be no surprise. Eating a large meal before bedtime can also contribute to a young person struggling to drift off. On school nights, it’s especially important that they eat earlier as they are more likely to need to get up in the morning at an earlier time. 

young woman outside smiling

Young people's wellbeing

Right now, children's wellbeing is at a ten year low. When problems start, they can't get help. When things get too much, they are put on a waiting list. We want young people to be happy and feel good about themselves, to be able to fight and not give up. 

Keeping a sleep journal 

It is important to get things off our chests. This is especially true when it comes to sleep. If a young person is having difficulties with homework, or they are being bullied they are far more likely to have problems sleeping. That is where a sleep journal comes in. 

A sleep journal is somewhere a child can write their thoughts and feelings down before bed to help spot negative thoughts and behaviours. It is meant to be a place to express themselves and let their minds wander, as they get it all down on paper. There is no right or wrong way to do it. They can draw, decorate the cover, and use images from magazines to let their creativity lead them. This is best done a few hours before bed so that the thoughts and feelings can settle, making it easier to sleep.   

Resources on sleep

So good quality sleep is important for everyone but especially for children as it directly impacts on their mental and physical development. If there is one thing we hope you take from all this, it is that there are things you can do to help. 

Check out our helpful videos about sleep on our YouTube channel or browse our resources