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Growth relies on hormones that trigger various activities throughout the body. The growth hormone, as its name suggests, is one of the key contributors to the growth process, and sleep plays a vital role in its production.
A lack of sleep can result in poor production of the human growth hormone, which can affect a child's growth. It may also negatively impact hormones that control appetite and insulin sensitivity. These two effects can increase a child’s risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is costly to treat in the absence of comprehensive health insurance.
In addition to the physical effects of insufficient sleep, experts have linked a lack of sleep to problems with psychological growth and development. Long-term sleep deprivation places stress on a child’s body, causing a spike in the production of hormones that make a child feel anxious, and can impair concentration both at home and school.
It is important that parents teach their children about good sleep habits early in life. Most young children respond favourably to a consistent bedtime routine, which signals to the body that it is time to relax and unwind. However, older children can be more reluctant to adopt a regular bedtime routine, particularly during holidays. Parents can look for ways to ensure that older children have filled their days with activities that naturally lead to the desire for a restful night.
One night of poor sleep will not harm a child. However, a persistent lack of sleep can lead to poor health, so parents should look for signs of sleep deprivation early and develop a plan to help their children get their sleep patterns back on track.