I want to be taller – can sleep help me grow?
– Sophie Age 6
It is indeed during deep sleep that growth hormone does its job. Growth hormone is made and released from the pituitary gland in our mid-brains and is very important for, you guessed it, growth.
During deep sleep states, when your body is totally relaxed, growth hormone instructs your bones to thicken and length.
The activities that you do during the day can also have an impact on how tall you get. Being active and doing jarring activities like skipping, jumping and falling will cause tiny breaks in your bones which will signal to your body that repair is needed that night.
What you eat can also have an impact on your growth. If you are eating enough proteins, vitamins and minerals every day (think fruit, vegetables, dairy and lean meats) then your body will have the building blocks it needs for strong bones. If you eat mainly carbohydrates and fats, then your body will be able to grow wider, but not taller.
Children who do not get enough to eat, or the right stuff to eat, are called ‘stunted’. This means that although they could have been taller, they won’t be as tall as they could have been because they didn’t have the building blocks they needed.
Not growing, or growing too much, can be a sign of a medical condition:
- giganticism is when there is too much growth hormone and you grow very tall, very fast
- hypopituitarism is when there is not enough growth hormone and you grow very little or not at all
If you are very worried that you are too tall or too small for your age then get your parents to take you for a check-up at your local doctor.
There is also more useful information on this site