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Kids, growing and sleep

Steven M Schwarz, MD, FAAP, FACN, a graduate of Yale College, served on the faculty of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1980-1984, and at New York Medical College from 1984-1985,...

Kids need sleep to grow on

Was what your mother always told you true -- that if you don't go to bed and get enough sleep, you weren't going to grow up big and strong? Maybe she was right that kids mainly grow overnight when they sleep. A pediatrician has the cool details for you!
Kids need sleep to grow on

One mom's question:

Do kids do most of their growing when they are asleep?

The expert answers:

Sleep is for more than just dreaming -- it's also essential for normal linear (height) growth, as well as for the growth and development of organs and tissues (heart, brain, muscles, etc.). Two major reasons account for this finding:

  1. Growth hormone, a substance produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, stimulates growth of the body and its constituent parts. This hormone is secreted during sleep; and,
  2. Our body expends much less energy during sleep than when awake and active; thus, energy can be "diverted" from maintaining wakefulness and activity levels, to the function of growth.

Many studies made in a variety of clinical settings have demonstrated that anything interfering with normal sleep patterns can negatively affect anyone's normal growth. Indeed, the fact that rapidly growing infants and children and infants require prolonged sleep times attests to the fact that growth does indeed happen during sleep.

Find out more about child growth and height!

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