CAN SLEEP AFFECT A CHILD’S GROWTH AND IMMUNITY?

By krushmichheda


We tend to associate poor sleeping habits because of high work pressure or late night binge watching to adults. But is it only adults whose sleep is disrupted?

From g aming, entertainment to now education, our children’s screen time has increased significantly. High exposure to blue light from digital screens can lead to delay in the onset of sleep as it increases the alertness, re-establishes the body’s circadian rhythm and delays the release of melatonin (hormone that induces sleep).

Each living creature needs a restful sleep at the right time and when it comes to children, sleep has a considerable role to play like it improves memory, attention, behaviour, aids in optimum physical growth, boosts immunity, etc. Let’s discuss the latter two which are the main concern for majority parents or guardians.


Sleep and Immunity

Overtime if your child is not getting enough sleep it could lead to high stress in the body, irritability in behaviour, low motivation, difficulty to focus and memorize. Repeated episodes of the same could lead to depression or anxiety issues as well.

Moving on to immunity, good sleep can help the child build a good immune system. It maximizes the body’s ability to produces a protein called cytokines which reduces the inflammation in the body and helps in fighting infectious microbes.

Good sleep also improves the lymphocytes, T cells of the immune system. T cells help in fighting against harmful pathogens. During sleep, the stress hormones are low which gives a better access to the T cells to kill the harmful pathogens as the integrin adhesion is higher.

Sleep and Optimum Growth

It is often quoted, “If you don’t sleep, you won’t grow”. This does not only hold true for how tall your child will be but also for overall growth.  A couple of nights with insufficient sleep will not impact on your child’s growth in a big way, however chronic insufficiency of sleep can stunt growth. Human growth hormone which plays a key role in maintaining an optimal body composition, growth, recovery and metabolism is released at night and inadequate sleep can suppress its production hence leading to stunted growth. Insufficient sleep also puts your child at a higher risk of obesity and insulin resistance.

Strategies to make your child sleep better              

  • Keep their day-time naps earlier in the day and short.
  • Maintain a regular wakeup and sleep time.
  • Bedroom should promote sleep, ensure it’s the same sleeping space everyday and it’s dark and quiet.
  • As a family, avoid using screens 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Finish your meals 2 hours before bedtime, especially sugar.
  • Avoid indulging in midnight snacking.
  • Ensure they are indulging in some form of physical activity daily.