Value of sleep in the child and adolescent

Published in El Pais, 28 April 2018

Sleep is a normal manifestation in all living beings and is characterized by the absence of conscience and the voluntary act; It is a resting stage of the cerebral cortex, which requires an appropriate, calm environment to avoid external stimuli. In this state there is an absence of muscular movements, slowness of respiratory rate and pulse. It is a very important physiological activity for the psychic-physical balance of all people and even more so in children.

This process has a determining role in the growth and development of the child and even more of the brain’s own development. It is also involved with motor activity and psychophysiological development in the early years of his life, as well as in preschool learning and behavior.

The sleep has different levels according to the chronological age, in the child and the adolescent it even shows deeper and repairing levels. It is in this stage where certain hormones are produced, such as the growth hormones and cortisol, which is involved in the defense of the body and other protective factors related to immunity and some neurotransmitters that ensure the activity of the central nervous system.

The number of hours of sleep in children is very important especially for hormonal release and the other factors. The National Sleep Foundation of the United States (2018) recommends the following hours of sleep:

Newborn 0- 3 months                   14-17 hours
Children from 1- 2 years               12-15 hours
Children from 3 to 5 years           10-13 hours
Children 6-13 years                        9-11 hours
Adolescents 14- 17 years             8- 10 hours
Adults 18-64                                      7-9 hours

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