The Connection Between Sleep And Growth In Children

by | August 10, 2018

Everyone knows getting enough sleep is important, but what’s the connection between sleep and growth?

Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, especially for a young child as they need this downtime to restore energy and build important brain connections, not to mention giving parents a chance to have a much-needed break. There are new scientific studies that are showing that sleep also helps to fuel physical growth.

Growth is a very complex process, which requires several hormones that stimulate various biological events in the blood, organs, bones, and muscles. The pituitary gland secretes a protein called the ‘human growth hormone’ and is a key factor in these events. There are several factors that affect the production of this hormone, including nutrition, stress, and exercise. For young children, however, sleep is the most important factor. The growth hormone is released throughout the day, but the most intense period of release is shortly after the beginning of deep sleep.

How much sleep do children need?

Kindergartners will need around 10-12 1/2 hours of sleep per night, and older elementary aged children will need roughly 9 1/2 – 11 1/2 hours sleep. Children’s sleep needs vary, with some needing less or more than their peers. The connection between sleep and growth is a big one, without adequate time in bed during the night growth problems can result. Growth hormone production can also be disrupted in children with certain physical problems sleeping, such as sleep apnea.


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If children don’t get enough sleep other changes in hormones levels may occur. Hormones that regulate hunger can be affected, which may lead to them over-eating or having a preference for high-calorie carbs. It can also affect the way the body metabolizes food, which can trigger insulin resistance linked to type 2 diabetes.

How to ensure a good nights sleep

Now the connection between sleep and growth has been established, here are some ways to ensure your child gets a full nights sleep.

  • Have a consistent bedtime. children who are school-aged should be in bed by around 8 pm, earlier for younger grades and children who need more sleep.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. This routine will signal to your child’s body that it is time to wind down and they will begin to relax. this routine may include having a bath, reading a story, or talking about their day while you’re tucking them in.
  • Avoid overstimulation. Keep your child’s room free from things that may over-stimulate them. It should be dark and quiet, don’t keep a tv or computer in the room, make a rule that no electronics are allowed in their bedroom.
  • Stick to the same routine every day even when on vacation. Staying up late once or twice in a while won’t negatively affect the routine, but letting them stay up later on the weekends or the entire vacation will cause long-term disruption and you’ll find it harder to get them back in the routine.

Did you know about this connection between sleep and growth? Let us know in the comments below!

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Aoife Sheridan

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via Aoife@raisevegan.com

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