Overview of sleep
Sleep is a naturally occurring state of rest in which our body is able to recover and repair. It is a complex process yet essential for maintaining good health and well-being.
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are the two main types of sleep.
REM is characterized by rapid eye movements, vivid dreams, and increased brain activity.
NREM, on the other hand, is divided into three stages and is marked by a decrease in brain activity and a slowing of the heart rate and breathing.
Sleep is also regulated by two processes, including the sleep/wake cycle and the circadian rhythm.
The sleep/wake cycle is controlled by the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that responds to light and dark signals.
Meanwhile, the circadian rhythm is a natural and internal process that regulates our sleep/wake cycle and other physiological processes over 24 hours.
Can a person’s sleep patterns affect their height?
How sleep affects your growth?
Sleep plays a critical role in promoting growth and development, particularly during growing years.
Research has shown that sleep plays a crucial role in growth hormones production and release . When you are in deep sleep, the pituitary gland releases the highest amounts of growth hormone, stimulating the growth of bone, muscle, and other tissues.
Also, sleep facilitates the process of bone remodeling, which is essential for maintaining bone strength and density. During this process, old bone is broken down and replaced with new bone.
Is there anything else?
Yes, of course. Sleep is essential for protecting the body from infections and illnesses and strengthening the proper functioning of the immune system. It might also help absorb nutrients needed for bone growth and development.
How many hours should you sleep?
First, please note that every person needs a different period of sleep, depending on genetics, activity level, and overall health. But you can consult the recommended sleep guidelines as a helpful starting point to ensure your children are getting enough quality sleep to promote healthy growth and development.
Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours per day, including naps.
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours per day, including naps.
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours per day, including naps.
School-aged children (6-12 years): 9-12 hours per day.
Teens (13-18 years): 8-10 hours per day.
Adults (above 18 years): 7 or more hours a night.
What happens if you are short of sleep?
As mentioned above, your body produces the hormones essential for building and repairing tissues while you sleep. However, if you consistently do not get enough sleep, it might disrupt their release, leading to stunted growth and development .
Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact bone density since it might hinder the process of proper bone remodeling, resulting in weaker bones and a higher risk of fractures . It also brings a negative impact on the immune system. So, if you are short of sleep over the long term, this might affect and weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and disease.
What is more, lack of sleep can impact cognitive function and mood, leading to decreased concentration, memory impairment, and mood changes, such as irritability and depression.
Tips for getting a good’s night sleep
Follow a consistent sleep schedule
One of the most important things you can do to improve your sleep is to establish a consistent sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time daily, even on weekends. This will help control your body's internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
Doing this might signal your body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This can include activities, like taking a lukewarm bath, reading a book, or practicing meditation or deep breathing.
Set up a cozy sleep environment
Try to keep your bedroom cool and quiet, and consider using blackout curtains or a white noise machine if necessary. Have a cozy mattress and pillows to provide proper support for your body. Soft, breathable sheets and comfortable blankets are indispensable too.
Avoid eating too much before bed
When you eat a large meal, your body increases blood flow to the digestive system, causing discomfort and making it harder to relax and fall asleep. Moreover, digesting a large meal requires energy, which can increase your body temperature and cause you to feel more awake.
Hence, you should not consume any big meal for at least two to three hours before bedtime. If you need to eat something, stick to small, light snacks that are easy to digest, such as fruit or yogurt.
Avoid stimulants before bedtime
Stimulants, like nicotine and caffeine, can hinder sleep, so it is best to avoid them before bedtime. Limit your intake of these substances throughout the day, and avoid consuming them within a few hours of going to bed.
Limit screen time before bed
The blue light from phones, tablets, or any electronic devices can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, the best thing is to avoid using them for at least 30 minutes or an hour before bedtime. Instead, try relaxing activities like reading or listening to music.
Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, reducing stress and promoting relaxation and calm feelings. And when you cool down after exercising, your body temperature naturally drops, which signals your brain it is time to sleep, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. But not everyone is the same; some might struggle to sleep if working out too near to bedtime.
Consider sleep aids
If you are having trouble sleeping, consider talking to your doctor about using a sleep aid. However, be sure to use these medications only as directed and under medical supervision.
Sleep should not be taken for granted, and we need to make an effort to prioritize and optimize our sleep habits to support healthy growth. By implementing the tips discussed mentioned above, we believe you will get the quality sleep you need to thrive physically and mentally.
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