Sleep is not a luxury but a necessity for both you and your baby

The benefits of sleeping well go far beyond just feeling better.
The benefits of sleeping well go far beyond just feeling better.

'Why can’t I wake up so many times for my baby if they need that?' 

If you've never felt guilt for not happily wanting to repeat this phrase, are you even a parent? 

While the fact remains that there is a time during the newborn phase where you will have to get up to feed your little one, there is also a time for your baby to start sleeping better.

This 'time to start sleeping better' is not only directed by a parent's wishes it is a necessary step in your little one's development. Just think of yourself and how you feel when your baby wakes up three times a night? What makes you think your baby does not feel the same?

While they’re still cuter and look better than what we do, they too struggle after poor sleep.  In fact, they are probably worse-off, as they need almost double the amount of sleep than we need.

Also read: No, giving your baby solid food early won't help them sleep better

Let’s look at some reasons why sleep is so essential: 

1. The first and most obvious reason is that you and your baby will be in a better mood

Moms have noted the significant impact on how they perceive their babies when both parties have been sleeping well.  Babies have a better temperament, are more approachable and are generally less likely to be cranky and crying the whole day after having in a good night’s sleep. Similarly, well-rested toddlers are more able to control their emotions and think before throwing a tantrum.

2. Children grow when then sleep! 

The growth hormone is mainly secreted during deep sleep.  Parents can also often observe and see growth and learning taking place during sleep as babies are quite active while sleeping.  An interesting thought is that generally, babies spend so much time sleeping, so where will they find the time to learn how to walk and talk if they did not practice it in their sleep?

3. Sleep can influence your child’s weight

More studies indicate that a lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Weight problems in turn can lead to heart problems. 

I have seen the effects of ill-sleep in different ways. An example is when toddlers start eating better when the night milk feedings are cut out, because these are no longer essential. Similarly, well-rested babies  start eating and drinking better when they have sufficient energy to do so.

4. Better sleep protects us against illness 

During sleep our body produces proteins called cytokines, which the body depends on to combat infection, illness, and stress. Even as adults, we are more irritable and prone to stress and illness when we do not get a good night’s sleep.

5. Sleep helps with better attention span and increases learning

Interestingly, attention problems such as ADHD and lack of sleep have very similar symptoms.  In recent years, sleep analysis forms a very integral part of diagnosing ADHD and related conditions. 

With better attention comes better memory retention and assists with learning.

6. Sleep lowers the risk of injury

Pilots have to sign documentation to show that they have slept eight hours before operating a plane. Children, too, are clumsier and make more mistakes with their movements if they are not well-rested. 

The benefits of sleeping well go far beyond just feeling better. Parents should know that sleep is not a luxury and it is not something they should feel guilty about wanting for both themselves and their growing babies. 

Chat back:

Share your story with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Compiled for Parent24 by Jolandi Becker, certified sleep consultant and of owner of Good Night. 


Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more:

  • 5 sleep secrets for new moms and dads
  • Why cat-naps aren't good enough
  • Sleep struggles? Here's hel
  • We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
    In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
    Subscribe to News24