Tummy Times / 5 reasons good sleep is critical for your child’s health and development 2021.11.04

5 reasons good sleep is critical for your child’s health and development

Bela Patel, Pharm. D, Holistic Health Coach

Prioritizing a good night's sleep for your child has far more benefits than just a happy face in the morning

Just like reminding our children about the importance of bathing and properly brushing their teeth, teaching them about sleep hygiene is absolutely essential. Sleep can easily become one of the most undervalued and most easily dismissed health pillars in a busy life, but prioritizing a good night’s sleep for your child has far more benefits than just a happy face in the morning.

  1. Sleep has a wonderful restorative function for our bodies, allowing our mind and body to reset and recharge for the next day (NCBI, 2021). A child’s growth consists of learning language, emotions, and developing new motor skills; and when sleeping, their brains are consolidating all of these behaviors into memories, storing what is needed and discarding what isn’t (Science Daily, 2013). Adequate sleep in a growing child promotes memory consolidation, while sleep deprivation can result in a lack of focus and can lead to learning difficulties (Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 2012)
  2. Sleep is also essential to help children balance their moods and regulate their emotions (JCSM, 2016). This is extremely important for school and for developing relationships. We can all relate to the young toddler and his behavior when he misses his nap or doesn’t sleep well the night before. Sleep-deprived children have problems getting along with others and are more prone to anger and frustration. Over prolonged periods, this can also lead to anxiety and other serious issues (Pubmed, 2013)
  3. Critically, in early infancy, sleep is important for proper growth (European Sleep Research, 2009). While sleeping, the body releases growth hormones that instruct the muscles and bones to grow. Studies show that when a developing child has certain sleep disorders, growth hormone levels are reduced, compromising proper physical growth (American Academy of Pediatrics,2002). Worried about your child not feeling well? A good night’s sleep can help. When we sleep, our brains release cytokines, or molecules that direct immune cells to fight areas of infection or inflammation (NCBI, 2012). )Not getting enough sleep can make a child more susceptible to feeling unwell and can increase inflammation in the body, putting a child at risk for poor health.
  4. Sleep also keeps the hormones that regulate our hunger and satiety in check. When children get sufficient sleep, they have a balance between the hormone that tells us we are hungry (Ghrelin) with the hormone that signals that we are full (Leptin). With proper amounts of sleep, our body produces adequate levels of both, but when sleep is inadequate, Ghrelin increases, causing more caloric consumption and thus putting a child at risk for reaching an unhealthy weight (NCBI, 2015).

Just like proper nutrition, sleep is essential for your child’s mental and physical development. Make it a priority and establish fun bedtime behaviors that signal to your child that it’s time for bed. To help ensure the needs of your child’s sleep, it’s best to establish a consistent bedtime routine. This could mean a bath, a bedtime story and a kiss goodnight. Getting good sleep every night means a few hours of downtime for you and a happier, healthier child!

Bela Patel, Pharm. D, Holistic Health Coach



Bela Patel is a Doctor of Pharmacy, Holistic Health Coach and founder of WholisticPharmacist.com with more than 20 years of clinical pharmacy practice experience. She is passionate about educating children and adults on using food and healthy lifestyle choices as medicine, as well as nurturing healthy mindsets for disease prevention. Bela has been a speaker on several topics in health and wellness and has been a guest on several podcasts and featured in Rolling Stones Magazine. For more tips on healthy living and delicious recipes, follow her on Instagram @wholisticpharmacist or check out her website at wholisticpharmacist.com


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482512/
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226081155.htm
  3. https://is.muni.cz/el/1431/jaro2013/Bi3080/um/Zsoldosova_spanek_a_konsolidace_pameti.pdf
  4. https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.5866
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24080494/
  6. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/messages/downloadsexceeded.html
  7. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/109/4/e55/64076/Growth-and-Biochemical-Markers-of-Growth-in?redirectedFrom=fulltext?autologincheck=redirected
  8. http://https//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
  9. http://https//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437224/

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