Zzzz for health

Inadequate sleep can affect a person mentally, physically and behaviorally, creating health issues.

Every living being needs to sleep. It is the primary activity of the brain during early development. By the age two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake and overall, a child will spend 40 percent of their childhood asleep. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development.

Newborns sleep a total of 10.5 to 18 hours a day on an irregular schedule, with periods of one to three hours awake. Sleep tips for newborns include: Observing baby’s sleep patterns and identifying signs of sleepiness. Put your baby in the crib when they’re drowsy, not asleep.

Infant’s ages 3- to 11 months usually sleep nine to 12 hours, with naps 30 minutes to two hours, each one to four times a day. Infant sleeping tips include: Developing a regular daytime and bedtime schedule and creating a consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine.

Toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Many toddlers experience sleep problems due to resistance and nighttime fears. Toddlers should maintain a daily sleep schedule and consistent bedtime.

Preschoolers aged 3- to 5-years-old typically sleep 11 to13 hours each night and most do not nap. Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule. Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps.

School-aged children aged five to 12-years need 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school. Teach school-age children about healthy sleep habits.

Teens need about eight to 9.5 hours of sleep per night and adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but many don't get it. As they progress through puberty, teens actually need more sleep. Because teens often have schedules packed with school and activities, they're typically chronically sleep deprived (or lacking in a healthy amount of sleep). Sleep deprivation adds up over time, so an hour less per night is like a full night without sleep by the end of the week. Among other things, sleep deprivation can lead to: Decreased attentiveness decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance and delayed response time. These can cause generally bad tempers, problems in school, stimulant use and driving accidents (more than half of "asleep-at-the-wheel" car accidents are caused by teens).

Unhealthy sleep patterns may also be associated with obesity, diabetes and depression. The amount of the hormone melatonin, which is mainly produced at night and allows regulation of circadian rhythm, may predict the risk of these conditions. Circadian rhythms are defined as the physical, mental and behavioral changes in a 24 hour cycle in response to light and darkness. Michigan State University Extension says that inadequate sleep patterns can affect a person’s health regardless of age.

Did you find this article useful?