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We have always heard that children grow while they sleep, Is this true or is it just another myth that arises around the development and growth of children? In Guiainfantil.com We are willing to answer this question and, first of all, we tell you that there is a lot of truth in this statement, although there are small nuances that need to be clarified.
It has been scientifically proven that children who sleep more hours at night develop and grow according to their age, unless it is accompanied by some pathology that affects growth, such as kidney, endocrine or other pathologies.
But it is necessary that it also be a quality sleep, that is, that the child is in his or her crib or bed, with adequate clothes to sleep, in silence, in the dark and with a pleasant ambient temperature, since it is not the same sleeping in a car, in the car or with disturbing noises and lights, because all this will also favor or delay the growth of the baby.
Nor do I mean by this that the child grows a lot of centimeters while sleeping, but it is true that it will grow effectively to the extent that it can enjoy quality sleep and in the number of hours necessary. And the question now would be, why is it important that the child gets enough quality sleep to be able to grow?
Because during sleep, large amounts of growth hormone (GH) or also called somatotropic hormone are released, which is synthesized by the anterior pituitary gland and is released in the deep phase of sleep or Non-REM phase. It has also been shown that it can be released when the child is taking naps, and although they are shorter, the hormone is excreted in the Non-REM phase period.
Growth hormone is a 191 amino acid polypeptide responsible for stimulating growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and animals. When the baby sleeps, there is a peak of maximum release of the hormone and, apparently, this occurs within two hours of sleep. According to studies, this peak is between 12 and 4 in the morning, when the deepest phase of sleep occurs.
After being released and taken up by particular receptors, growth hormone (GH) can stimulate the activity of osteoblasts and chondrocytes to promote its main function, which is, bone growth in children and adolescents, thus achieving increase in them their height.
Its highest production peak is seen during these stages of life and decreases as old age is reached. Growth hormone also has other functions, which are:
- Stimulate the growth of internal organs.
- Produce an increase in muscle mass.
- Act on the immune system.
- Contribute to the mineralization of the bone system, promoting the retention and uptake of calcium.
- Stimulate lipolysis.
It is proven that growth hormone can also be released at other times in the lives of children and adolescents, such as when they practice sports activities, when they have a good diet and when they enjoy a healthy life. During these moments, the hormone is released in a pulsatile way, like squirts of hormone and also fulfills all the functions already listed.
And also in studies made by scientists from Emory University, in the United States, it was shown that 43% of children can grow during what they call 'sudden stretches', which are related to increased sleep hours , for example, when they take a nap or sleep in the car during a walk or when they are in bed due to feverish symptoms or, simply, when they increase 60 minutes of their usual hours of sleep.
For all of the above, it is ideal for children to have an adequate amount of sleep hours for growth hormone to be released and to fulfill its functions, which will lead to adequate growth of children and adolescents.
- Establish regular sleep routines from an early age, specific to each child. Many times what works for one does not work for another.
- Procure the right environment so that sleep is pleasant and calm.
- Get them used to taking naps.
- Have a good and balanced diet.
- Play sports or physical activity.
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