Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Surprising effects of lack of sleep on babies

This post is brought to you by Pampers.

As a Pampers Mommy, I'm learning a lot about sleep and how vital it is for our children. I'm also feeling a lot guilty because I can compare my two kids, Vito and Iñigo.

Vito, being the eldest child and having no one to bother him when he was still a baby, had the luxury of sleep. He napped twice a day—2 hours in the morning and 2 hours after lunch. Then he went to bed at around 6pm, woke up at 4am. That's an enviable (and recommended) 14 hours of sleep every single day!

Iñigo's story is sooo different. He hardly slept. His sleep total was 10-11 hours a day. That's because Vito wakes him up and keeps him up. This used to be Iñigo's life: Wake up at 6am, nap at 10:30am, get sleepy at around 4pm but never get to nap because Vito wants to play, finally collapse between 9-10pm. We used to think that was okay but because of all the things I'm learning from Pampers, we force the kids to sleep earlier now.


In a previous post, some mommies left comments about how naps and early bedtimes do NOT apply to their kids. You know, mommies, before I became a Pampers Mommy, I would've agreed with you. I'd have said, "Kids are different. Vito likes to sleep, Iñigo doesn't. They're both wonderful, healthy kids. So, nope, naps and early bedtime and uninterrupted sleep do not apply to all."

But at a recent visit to the pediatrician, a visit that coincided with the start of my campaign with Pampers, the doctor told us that Iñigo is short. "He's not growing," Dr. Cricket said. "He needs more protein in his diet but more importantly, Iñigo needs to sleep more and earlier. He has to nap twice a day and he has to sleep by 8pm."

To say that Vince and I were upset was an understatement. We were angry and ashamed and humiliated. We felt like bad parents. When I took out the growth charts and compared the height of Vito and Iñigo at 1 year old, Vito was taller by 2 cms. That doesn't sound like a lot but it actually is. This made us feel awful. We felt awful for weeks! We still feel bad actually. We mistakenly thought that kids are different—some kids sleep more, some kids sleep less! What's the big deal?!

The big deal is science says that all kids need to sleep, and science says all kids need a total of this many hours to grow and develop properly (see infographic above). You can't argue with science, mommies!

With a sleep schedule in place, Iñigo naps just like that. Anywhere and everywhere!
Now that Iñigo is sleeping more and earlier, he's grown a bit taller and his mood is even better. He's always been a well behaved child (that's why I thought the less-sleep thing didn't apply to Iñigo) but now that he's well rested, he's soooo pleasant and wonderful! But we're still living with the guilt that he could've been taller if we only insisted on nap times and early bedtimes!

Mommies, your kids need to sleep. No excuses!

It's not just slow growth that happens when our babies don't get the recommended amount of sleep. More serious consequences after the jump...

According to recent studies reported by The New York Times, even one single hour of sleep lost by a child has serious consequences. I pull a quote from the article:
Using newly developed technological and statistical tools, sleep scientists have recently been able to isolate and measure the impact of this single lost hour. Because children’s brains are a work-in-progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn’t have on adults. 
The surprise is how much sleep affects academic performance and emotional stability, as well as phenomena that we assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the international obesity epidemic and the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A few scientists theorize that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure: damage that one can’t sleep off like a hangover. It’s even possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of being a tweener and teen—moodiness, depression, and even binge eating—are actually symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.
The article is long but here's the summary of consequences. Even one hour of sleep that your child consistently loses will:

  • impair academic performance
  • lower I.Q. 
  • affect emotional stability
  • may lead to obesity
  • contribute to ADHD and behavioral problems
  • possibly cause moodiness and depression

There's a lot more actually but those are the major ones. So, mommies, please make sure your kids get their full recommended sleep at night! Remember, too, that our babies need to nap during the day. Naps do not replace nighttime sleep as they serve different functions. A CNN article ("Study: Lack of sleep for babies and toddlers may increase obesity risk") differentiates:
Night sleep: involves "complex biological, psychological and restorative functions."
Day naps: may help reduce stress and help a child be more alert to learn
I know a lot of us mommies will protest: "Our babies refuse to nap!" That's my problem with Iñigo until now. He needs to nap but he will fight it with all the might of his tiny cute body! What he doesn't know (and I know now!) is his naps mean he'll be a happier, more intelligent baby!

Thankfully, in the almost 2 months I've been learning about the importance of sleep, my kids have improved their sleep habits. That's because their Mama and Papa are smarter now! We put them on a sleep schedule—Iñigo knows his nap is at 10am so he automatically feels sleepy around that time, while at night, we've programmed bedtime rituals so that by 8pm, the kids are now asleep. Hooray!

And of course our partner in uninterrupted sleep is Pampers diapers! We never have to worry about wetness or leaks disrupting our kids' naps and nighttime sleep! Happy sleeping!

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  1. Technically, my baby is not a baby anymore. She's 5 and is a preschooler. But this still applies to her. I agree! Whenever my daughter has slept for less than 10 hours, expect she'll go Incredible Hulk when she gets sleepy. :)

  2. very interesting info Mommy Frances! I myself should be aware of that info graphics

  3. Thanks for sharing, I also love to see my kids sleep. My youngest didn't like to nap when she was a baby, I think that's why she's so small. :-( I also have a problem with them napping so close to bedtime. What am I to do??

    1. Very well said Mommy.. I shared your article on my FB acct... My son used to have a sleep sched but when he started school just this year it was a big adjustment for us,his school is at 1pm till 4pm and that is his nap schedule... so every schoolday he is not able to take a nap only at weekends... =(


This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!