Why Is Sleep Important for Our Children?

Everyone needs sleep to be healthy. Our bodies and brains need restorative sleep , to keep every system functioning well. Sleep should be a priority for parents and children.

Restores the brain

When you are exhausted, it is a struggle to think clearly.  The brain needs sleep to function well. I know from my own experience that sleepless nights (usually caused by the many babies I have cared for)  make me feel dull. My thoughts feel like they are trying to move through thick mud. Sleep experts recommend not to make any life-changing decisions such as job transfers or major purchases when you are sleep-deprived. You will have difficulty seeing the possible consequences of a decision.

toddler sleeping wearing seat belt in booster seat

Sometimes I hear desperate parents tell me they drive around as the only way to help their child sleep. I do not recommend that. If the child is waking frequently, most likely the parent is waking frequently also.  An exhausted parent is at risk of falling asleep while driving or of having very poor driving judgment.

AAA did a research study on the effects of driving while sleep deprived.  ” The  AAA study found drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting in a crash, compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours.” I had a one sleep deprived, but wise Dad, tell me that he started using public transportation to get to work because he did not trust himself driving.

Lack of sleep also effects the mental ability of children.  An overtired baby has difficulty thinking and learning. Every baby processes a lot of new information each day. Learning moves into long-term memory during sleep. It is difficult for an exhausted child to learn and then remember the numerous skills they must master in their first couple of years. Learning becomes a struggle for a tired child.

Studies have shown that sleep promotes brain development in babies. We all want our baby to be smart. The best way for that to become a reality is to make sleep a priorty for your baby.

Restores the body

Lack of sleep causes health problems  for adults and children. Body systems have many functions they can only perform during sleep. The body needs that time to restore and repair itself. Research connects sleep deprivation to health issues like heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, depressed immune system, and obesity in adults.

A child’s body grows while they are sleeping.  I  recently worked with two different families because their babies were waking frequently.  A tired child cannot eat well. Both of these babies would only eat if they were partially asleep. Each baby fell asleep after eating a small amount to satisfy their hunger. The babies ate enough to survive but not to grow.

I worked with both families to help their baby sleep better. The rested babies had more energy and their eating improved. One baby gained 2 pounds within 3 weeks! The parents and doctor were thrilled. The other baby went from eating one ounce per frequent feedings to eating 4 ounces every 3-4 hours.

Lack of sleep depresses the function of the immune system. A strong immune system fights the germs and viruses a child is exposed to. Well-rested children do not get sick as frequently.

Do your child and yourself a favor by making sleep a priority. Exhaustion is not fun or healthy for either the parent or the child.

Helping Babies Sleep

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

Infant Tummy Massage to Relieve Gas

To see the complete massage instructional video:


Alix Kron
Alix Kron
2 weeks ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
a year ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Amanda C
Amanda C
3 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.