How is Sleep Related to Development?

How is Sleep Related to Development?


Sleep Related to Development, Sleep is vital to health for everyone but most importantly for children in who are constantly growing and developing. It is estimated that children should sleep for approximately 50% of the day. This is essential to the development of a child as their behavior, memory, and social skills mature significantly during this time. It is also important to monitor their behaviour, physical health as well as take note of their sleeping patterns to determine whether they are sleep-deprived. Behavioral signs to take note of are:

  • Irritable moods
  • Being quieter than usual or acting out or anger for no apparent reason.

Children are extremely changeable, therefore signs such as this may not seem unusual, however, it is important to take note of the behavior and try to decipher whether it is hormonal or due to sleep deprivation. Physical signs may help you determine whether a child is sleep-deprived. Signs such as .Sleep Related to Development

  • Excessive yawning
  • Lack of energy
  • Catching more colds or bugs than usual could be due to lack of (2)

The immune system can be significantly affected by lack of sleep and affect our health. When we sleep our bodies recharge and our immune system is strong, whereas when we don’t get the right amount of sleep, our immune systems can become weaker and unable to ward off disease and illness. This can be potentially dangerous to children as they are at much larger risk as their immune systems are constantly fighting off new bacteria.

Now, Let us look at how much sleep is required and how it affects your children depending on their age

New-born (0-3 months)

A newborn baby will sleep approximately 10 to 18 hours a day (depending on the individual) in an irregular schedule with around 1 to 3 hours awake at one time alone. Sleep at this stage is dependent solely on physical instinct such as when they need to be fed, changed, and nurtured.

At this stage, your baby’s sleep is lighter and more easily disrupted. Sleep is considered incredibly important for a newborn as it is thought to be necessary for the development of the brain. Furthermore, this is when a child learns face recognition and initially bonds with the mother, and forms the first social interaction where individual behaviors occur. If sleep is disrupted significantly at this stage it could affect a child’s association with the initial world and their social bonds later in life.

Infants (4-11 months)

At this stage, an infant will sleep at more regular times than a newborn and generally through the night for approximately 9-12 hours with a couple of 2-hour naps through the day. At this age, infants start to develop their social skills significantly and sleep can often be disrupted due to the brain being overly alert to these social situations.  If an infant feels secure and attached to their parent then they generally have better sleeping patterns. This is important for the emotional development and could affect how someone sleeps and acts when they are older.

Toddlers (1-2 years)

At this stage, a toddler will get approximately 11-14 hours of sleep a day, with nap times decreasing to only once a day. At this age, a child is learning their own independence and their motor, cognitive and social skills start to speed up. This can often affect a child’s sleeping pattern as they become over enthused with all new situations that they refuse to sleep and become moody and irritable, causing a knock-on effect on their behavioral skills. It is important that a child doesn’t get too frustrated and lose out on quality sleep as it is detrimental to development and if a child doesn’t get the required sleep then it may affect their progress in the future. It is essential to maintain a consistent regular bedtime routine to ensure the process is stress-free as much as possible and to calm down the activity in the brain. If this is achieved the toddler will have better quality sleep and a happier sleep routine in the future.

Pre-schoolers (3-5 years)

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At this stage, pre-schoolers will generally get around 11-13 hours’ sleep a night with most not napping after the age of 5 years of age.  Pre-schoolers often develop their imagination at this age and this can sometimes have a knock-on effect on sleep as they are disrupted by nightmares through the night. This can possibly lead to anxiety about sleep and can affect their quality of sleep.  The association of sleep with anxiety can be damaging to a child’s health as it can lead to a lack of sleep and the body doesn’t have time to recharge, which can possibly lead to a weaker immune system. Therefore by ensuring their sleeping environment is relaxing and stress-free, a child will less likely associate anxiety with sleep and their health should be better. A better sleep routine can also prevent future problems with sleep and ensure their cognitive and behavioral development isn’t affected, as well as their physical health.

School children (6-13 years)

Generally, school children will need approximately 9-11 hours of sleep a day. At this stage, children become more open to outside factors such as TV, media and internet. This can have a massive effect on a child’s sleeping pattern, especially if they are allowed to use these more regularly, particularly before bedtime. Studies have shown that children who watch TV before bed often struggle to sleep and have bad sleeping patterns which can often lead to them not getting the required amount of sleep they need.


At this stage, sleep disorders are most prevalent and can lead to behavioral problems such as ADHD. When children don’t get enough sleep, they often become irritable and moody, or even angry. With children of this age, it is even more damaging, as they are still learning social and behavioral skills. Consequently maintaining a routine sleeping regime is vital to make sure a child develops naturally and happily.


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Sayee Deshpande
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