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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Contributor
 
September 19, 2012

Deep Sleep May Help Kick-Start Puberty

The age when kids love staying up late is actually the age when their bodies need sleep the most. By Charlene J. Owen
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Is your growing child getting enough sleep? She should be, as research shows that internal changes caused by puberty mostly happen during sleep. Apparently, the body adjusts and transforms during what is known as "deep sleep." 

In a study reported by MedicalNewsToday.com, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital observed deep sleep and its relation to the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH), which is crucial in aiding female ovulation and male testosterone production. They found out that most LH pulses happen just before deep sleep, making a concrete connection between long periods of rest and the beginnings of puberty. 

"If the parts of the brain that activate the reproductive system depend on deep sleep, then we need to be concerned that inadequate or disturbed sleep in children and young adolescents may interfere with normal pubertal maturation. This is particularly true for children who have been diagnosed with sleep disorders, but may also have more widespread implications as recent studies have found that most adolescents get less sleep than they require," says lead study author Dr. Natalie Shaw.

If you notice the changes that signal the start of puberty in your tween, encourage her to hit the sack at a certain time every night in order to regulate her sleeping patterns. This way, her body has time to go through the transition, and she’ll have an easier time dealing with growing up.

(Photo by EliJerma via Flickr Creative Commons)

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