Sleep – Good For The Body And Brain


Sleeping child

Most people spend about one-third of their lives asleep, and it is important they do. It has a big impact on the health of the body and the brain.  The Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative recently published the book, “Sleep and Your Child: A Guide for Families” and in it notes “research suggests that not enough sleep in children can have a negative impact on their health, growth, behavior and cognitive development (thinking).”  Here is how sleep impacts the body, according to the guide:

Brain Development

  • promotes ability to follow directions
  • improves attention span and ability to focus
  • increases cognitive and language development
  • 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before age 5
  • some scientiststhink the brain sorts through and stores information as well as solves problems during sleep

Behavioral and Emotional Health

  • reduces tantrums or “meltdowns” by better regulating a child’s emotions
  • enables better adjustment to preschool setting
  • lowers levels of aggression

Immune System

  • boosts the immune system and helps fight off illness

Physical Growth and Development

  • gives the growing body more energy
  • improves coordination for physical activity
  • allows release of growth hormones
  • lack of sleep is linked to obesity and diabetes


The guide also provides guidelines on sleep required by children, but notes requirements vary by child. For children from birth to six months—the recommendation is about 16 to 20 total hours a day; six months to a year—about 11 hours at night, plus two daytime naps totaling three to four hours; for ages one to three—10 to 13 hours, plus an afternoon nap of one to three hours; for ages three to five—10 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. (Most preschoolers give this up by age five); and for ages five-12—10 to 12 hours at night.