Sleep is a necessity not a luxury

By Jolandi Becker

Often parents feel guilty about their need to train their children to sleep. “Why can’t I wake up so many times for my baby if they need that?” 

While the fact remains that inevitably there is a time during the newborn phase where you will have to wake up to feed your little one, there is a time for your baby to start sleeping better. This “time to start sleeping better” is not only directed by the parents’ wishes but it is a necessary step for the development of your little one.

Just think of yourself and how you feel when you baby wakes up three times a night? What makes you think you baby does not feel the same? While they’re still cuter and look better than we do, due to their youth, they too struggle after poor sleep.  In fact,  they are probably worse-off, as they need almost double the amount of sleep than we need.

Let’s look at some reasons why sleep is a necessity for your little one:

  1. The first and most obvious reason is that you and your baby will be in a better mood. Mums have noted the significant impact on how they perceive their babies when both parties have been sleeping well.  Babies have a better temperament, are more approachable and are generally less likely to be cranky after having a good night’s sleep. Similarly, well-rested toddlers are more able to control their emotions and think before throwing a tantrum.
  2. Children grow when they sleep! It’s simple, the growth hormone is mainly secreted during deep sleep. Parents can also often observe and see growth and learning taking place during sleep as babies are quite active while sleeping. 
  1. Sleep can influence your child’s weight. Studies indicate that lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Weight problems in turn can lead to heart problems. I have seen the effects of ill-sleep in different ways. Well-rested babies  start eating and drinking better when they have sufficient energy to do so and they get that energy from sleep.
  2. Better sleep protects us against getting sick. During sleep our body produces proteins called cytokines, which the body depends on to combat infection, illness, and stress. Even as adults we are more irritable and prone to stress and illness when we do not have a good night’s sleep.
  3. Sleep helps with better attention span and increases learning. Interestingly, attention problems such as ADHD and lack of sleep have very similar symptoms. In recent years, sleep analysis forms a very integral part of diagnosing ADHD and related conditions. With better attention comes better memory retention and this assists with learning.
  4. Sleep lowers the risk of injury, even when assessing adults. Pilots have to sign documentation to show that they have slept eight hours before operating a plane. Children, too, are clumsier and make more mistakes with their movements if they are not well-rested. 

The benefits of sleeping well go far beyond just feeling better.  Parents should know that sleep is not a luxury and it is not something they should feel guilty about wanting; it is a necessity for their little ones to grow up healthy.

Images provided by Jolandi Becker

Originally published in the 114th issue of Ndeipi Magazine

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