Every function in the body is affected by sleep. For a child, the risks of sleep deprivation are much more serious than simply waking up in a grumpy mood. Research shows that children with sleep disturbances have more medical problems—such as allergies, ear infections, and hearing problems—than their well-rested peers. They are also more likely to have social and emotional problems.
In fact, a host of health problems have been associated consistently with inadequate sleep. Here are six reasons why parents should be sure their children are getting enough Zzzs.
Sleep loss is linked to obesity and diabetes.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the incidence of childhood obesity as well as type 2 diabetes. Studies indicate that lack of sleep may be factor in promoting both obesity and diabetes.
Inadequate sleep may cause children to overeat.
University of Chicago researchers reported in the December 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine that a lack of sleep changes the circulating levels of the hormones which regulate hunger and the boost appetite and a person's preference for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.
At the American Diabetes Association's 61st annual scientific session, new evidence was presented that inadequate sleep may affect the body's ability to metabolize sugar and prompt development of insulin-resistance, a well-known risk factor for diabetes.
Sleep loss is associated with anxiety and depression.
We have known for some time that depression and anxiety can contribute to insomnia; however, recent research has shown that insomnia often precedes the first episode of depression or of a relapse. It also contributes to anxiety by raising the body's levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Physicians are looking more closely at the importance of solving sleep problems to eliminate or decrease the severity of anxiety or emerging depression.