During sleep, our brains, especially those of babies and young children, aren’t actually resting – in fact, quite the opposite: the brain continues to be extremely active, laying down pathways and forging new connections while you slumber.
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It’s no big surprise that adequate rest is an important component of child development. One of the most important benefits of sleep is the role that sleep plays in supporting brain development in infants and young children.
While your body is at rest during sleep, your brain seizes this opportunity to engage in some very important work. During this time, the experiences of the day are reviewed, and those events deemed important for the future are converted into more permanent forms of learning. This happens by forming or modifying thousands or tens of thousands of connections between the nerves.
Because sleep quality and duration are so important for cognitive development, sleep issues aren’t just a hassle; they are potential causes for developmental concern.
Though children differ in their sleep requirements, experts advise that most babies need 15 hours of sleep per night, toddlers 12-14 hours, and preschoolers 10-12 hours. If your child isn’t getting the right amount of sleep and appears to have trouble staying focused, paying attention, remembering things in an age-appropriate way, or often has a disposition that you find challenging or temperamental, a sleep deficit may be the culprit.
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.