Physiotherapists Advocate Healthy Sleep Culture for Children

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

In order for children to perform well academically, they must imbibe a healthy sleep culture, physiotherapists in Nigeria have advised.

They said through their association, the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (NSP), that quality sleep helps repair and restore body cells, tissues, and organs and to help children’s physical and mental growth and development, they must sleep at the right time.

According to the Coordinator, NSP Paediatric Specialist Group, Dr Ituen Oluwakemi, children between the ages of 4-12 months should observe 12-16 hours of sleep; while 1-2 years, 11-14 hours; with those between 3-5 years observing 10-13 hours; 6-12 years must sleep for 9-12 hours; and those between 13-18 years, 8-10 hours.

If this is adhered to, it will improve the cognitive skills development, memory, alertness and general performance necessary for the academic excellence of the children.

The doctor emphasised that quality sleep allows the pituitary gland in the brain to produce different specialized hormones, including the growth hormone, which influences a child’s height.

This growth hormone, the medical expert said, is responsible for increasing the size and repairing tissues, muscles, and bones. This process is significant during puberty because it facilitates rapid growth spurts, as there have been cases of growth retardation in children with poor quality sleep over a long period.

In addition, Dr Oluwakemi advised parents to provide the right sleep solution to ensure quality sleep, noting that quality sleep is not just a function of duration, but also the sleep needs to be uninterrupted.

“When asleep at night, the child should wake up not more than once to have a night of quality sleep, as the reverse has negative consequences like obesity, behavioural disorders, attention deficit, and restlessness, among many others.

“It is worthy of note that quality sleep enhances a child’s brain capacity to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend and solve complex problems, learn quickly, and remember past experiences, as well as in the area of language development,” she said.

“The milestone a child misses during childhood may affect their adolescent and adult life, hence the need for the right sleep mattress from infanthood.

“The NSP recommends Mouka’s mattresses which are specially designed for children. The Dreamtime mattress is water-resistant yet breathable and made with the proper foam density for younger children.

“On the other hand, the Comfy mattress is covered with a polycotton fabric and is made with a low-density foam to keep older children comfortable through the night,” she added.

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