We all have heard the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.

Well… But, this saying doesn’t tell anything about how your sleep affects your height.

Whether it makes you taller; whether it makes you grow faster or slower… There is not much known about how your sleep affects your height.

But there are a few research studies that have specifically tried to assess the effect of sleep on our growth and eventually our height.

They have also tried to evaluate whether sleeping for longer or the specific bedtime routine could support faster development in children and help them grow taller.

The results of these studies have provided great insights into the body’s various mechanisms involved in growth and development. Some of these studies have revealed that sleep might actually be one of the essential criteria your body needs to be able to grow properly.

So, does it mean sleeping well or improving your sleep pattern can help you grow taller?

Let’s find out…

The role of sleep in the growth and development of children

When it comes to supporting the growth of children, there is a huge emphasis on providing them with nutrients like proteins and calcium.

You must have seen the advertisements of nutritional supplements that are specifically meant for children. Most of these supplements are promoted as being rich in proteins and calcium.

Proteins can support the body’s growth by acting as building blocks. Calcium, on other hand, is needed by the bones to grow faster and stay strong.

It is known that the deficiency of these nutrients could slow down the growth of a child leading to a shorter stature.

However, none of these advertisements mention that other than these nutrients, your child also needs to follow a healthy lifestyle and that includes getting adequate sleep.

And it is not just about getting enough sleep!

Your height also depends on the time you go to sleep and whether you are able to sleep well throughout the nighttime.

Instilling healthy sleep habits could be considered one of the critical factors for ensuring your child grows taller. Of course, a single night of inadequate sleep would not stunt his or her growth. But if the lack of sleep continues over the long term, your child’s growth might get affected.

And there are several reasons for this. 

The primary effect of sleep on height could be analyzed based on how it affects the secretion of growth hormones.

Let us have a closer look at the role of sleep in the growth and development of children and the effects of adequate sleep or sleep deprivation that could make your child taller or shorter, respectively. [1]

We will also have a look at how the link between sleep disorders and the growth hormone secretion affects height.

How can sleep problems affect the growth of children?

It seems that sleep can produce a profound effect on the growth of children primarily by interfering with the secretion of growth hormones.

Not getting enough sleep has been found to increase the risk of stunted growth in children due to which they may grow to be shorter in height compared to the children who have a healthy sleep pattern.

It is not just inadequate sleep, but even having sleep problems such as sleep apnea could affect the growth hormone release in the brain leading to the shorter height.

Some sleep disorders are known to predispose children to be shorter as well as obese.

For example; research studies have revealed that children who have a disrupted sleep pattern tend to have a lower level of growth hormone in their body.

The growth hormone is mainly secreted in the nervous system during some specific stages of sleep during the night. The phase of non-REM sleep, which occurs during the early hours of the night after we go to sleep, seems to be particularly important for the secretion of growth hormone.

This phase of sleep is predominant in the initial one-third of the night.

Going to the bed late or not getting sound sleep during the non-REM phase of sleep could prevent the adequate secretion of growth hormone due to which the child’s growth may be affected.

Also, disturbed sleep due to external reasons like noises and bright lights in the room or internal reasons like mental stress or sleep apnea can also hamper optimum secretion of growth hormone leading to problems with the development of the body’s organs and tissues including bones.

This could put your child at a risk of stunted growth causing him or her to grow shorter.

Children who are affected more severely due to this phenomenon usually fall off from their growth curve. 

For example, if your child was in the 40th percentile of height during the early years of development, the lack of sleep might cause him to fall into the 10th or 20th percentile over time. [2]

This marks the importance of ensuring your child gets enough sleep for at least 8 to 10 hours every night in order to support optimum growth hormone secretion and prevent stunted growth.

This phenomenon related to the impact of sleep on the growth hormone levels in the body and its eventual effect on the height could be observed in all children, including those without any apparent sleep issues.

This means a child is likely to grow taller if he follows a healthy sleep pattern and gets a sound, undisturbed sleep for a minimum of 8 hours every night. The children who have irregular sleep times or those who do not get sound sleep at night for any reason are at a higher risk of poor growth.

Hence, parents should ensure their kids follow a healthy sleep pattern with a fixed sleep-wake routine so that their adult height is not affected adversely.

Here is some more information that would help you understand the exact processes that link sleep with growth hormone levels and height.

Physiology of growth hormone production during sleep

Studies aimed at assessing the relation between the initial few hours of sleep and the growth hormone secretion have revealed interesting results. One research study has proven that the most reproducible pulses of growth hormone secretion occur shortly after the onset of sleep usually in association with the 1st phase of SWS (slow-wave sleep).

In men, nearly 70% of the growth hormone pulses during sleep tend to coincide with SWS. Moreover, the amount of growth hormone produced and released during each pulse correlates with the corresponding amount of SWS.

Favorable changes in the activities of the hypothalamus during the initial phase of sleep could also result in a peak in growth hormone secretion thus contributing to the faster growth and increase in height. [3]

The sleep-related production of growth hormone also appears to be dependent on the levels of growth hormone-releasing-hormone. [4]

Some studies have shown that the administration of injections containing growth hormone-releasing hormone could reduce wakefulness and improve SWS. These findings indicate that getting enough sleep could be of high importance for ensuring the body is able to secrete growth hormones in higher amounts to support growth spurts and improve height. [5]

Hence, parents are advised to ensure their kids go to the bed at the same time every night to improve their sleep-wake pattern.

Going to the bed at the same time would attune the body’s internal biological clock called the circadian rhythm to the specific schedule. This would improve hormonal balances, regulate hypothalamic activities, and support higher growth hormone secretion thereby enabling your child to grow taller.

How does sleep apnea affect the growth of children?

One of the commonest sleep disorders known to affect the normal growth of children is sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by periodic obstruction in the upper airways that can cause pauses in breathing and snoring. The child may awaken abruptly from a deep phase of sleep gasping for breath due to the obstruction to breathing. 

The act of getting up or sitting upright helps to relieve the obstruction and opens the airways allowing normal breathing to resume.

The child may be able to sleep once the breathing has become normal only to be awakened again after a while with an inability to breathe properly. This might continue to occur throughout the night due to which the child may feel unrefreshed in the morning.

The frequent awakening caused as a result of sleep apnea can lead to fragmented sleep due to which the secretion of growth hormone can get compromised.

As a result, the growth and development of the child would be affected leading to a shorter stature.

One study specifically aimed at assessing the impact of sleep apnea on the child’s growth and height have confirmed these findings. This study was aimed at evaluating the pathophysiological mechanisms related to growth impairment that are frequently associated with the OSAS (obstructive sleep apnea syndrome) in children.

The objective of the study was also to check whether the upper airway obstruction during sleep could be attributed to adenotonsillar hypertrophy and whether the subsequent surgical treatments could restore the normal circulating levels of IGFBP-3 (IGF-binding protein 3)  and IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor-I) along with other parameters of growth in children.

During this study, 70 children with the mean age of 5.8 years within a range of 2.4 to 10.5 years were observed. The clinical symptoms in these children related to OSAS were assessed. The sleep of participants was monitored with the help of advanced methods like the 6-channel computerized polygraph.

At the same time, data related to anthropometry (a systematic measurement of different parts of the human body) and the circulating concentrations of IGFBP-3 and IGF-I were generated.

The information was later compared with the corresponding characteristics in children without sleep apnea or any other sleep disorders.

Among these participants, 30 children having the OAHI (obstructive apnea-hypopnea index) of 1 or more were grouped as OSAS whereas 4 children having an OAHI of less than 1 were considered primary snorers (PS).

The OAHI is defined as the number of episodes of apneas or hypopneas per hour of total sleep time. A higher OAHI indicates a more severe form of sleep apnea as it suggests the patient has to get up several times during sleep with an episode of breathing difficulty.

Nineteen children having OAHI of more than two underwent adenotonsillectomy, a surgical procedure for the removal of the adenoids and tonsils. The surgery was attributable to OSAS with an aim to remove the enlarged tonsils and adenoids that were believed to be responsible for creating an obstruction in the air passages.

These children were reassessed after six months together with the 34 non-operated children having a lower OAHI.

This study showed that there was no initial difference in the relative height and weight of the participants in these 3 groups. No difference was observed in the peripheral concentrations of IGF-I.

However, this study has noted that children with OSAS and PS had reduced levels of IGFBP-3. The children operated for OSAS also experienced a significant reduction in their OAHI, which was considered a positive sign of improvement.

The other parameters related to the sizes of the body parts such as weight-for-height ratio, body mass index, fat-free mass, and body fat mass were found to be increased during the follow-up assessment of the children operated for OSAS.

The concentrations of the IGFBP-3 and IGF-I were significantly higher in the operated children, though no significant change was observed in the non-operated children.

This study has proven that sleep apnea can be a huge factor affecting the height of children.

Children suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to have reduced secretion of growth hormones including IGFBP-3 and IGF-I due to which they may have stunted growth.

However, at the same time, it was also observed that the treatment for sleep apnea, such as surgery for the removal of the cause of obstruction like enlarged tonsils and adenoids, could reverse the impact of this condition.

Seeking proper treatment for sleep apnea could help children avoid stunted growth and enable them to achieve a good height.

In this case, the removal of the enlarged tonsils and adenoids through adenotonsillectomy helped open the air passages. The surgical excision of these glands helped to remove the cause of obstruction that hampered their normal breathing. This allowed the children to breathe normally without frequent awakening caused due to sleep apnea.

The improved sleep pattern restored the levels of growth hormones in these children as a result of which their growth rate was improved.

This suggests that the impairment of growth hormone secretion in children with OSAS or PS can be avoided by seeking appropriate treatment aimed at eliminating the cause of obstruction. 

Respiratory improvement following adenotonsillectomy could restore a healthy sleep pattern and help children grow taller as is expected based on their genetic make-up and other factors independent of sleep apnea. [6]

Moreover, this study has also supported the idea that not getting enough sleep due to any other reason could also have a similar effect on the growth hormone secretion and height of children.

Luckily, children whose sleep apnea is treated are able to achieve a rebound growth spurt. Most patients are able to recover their earlier growth trajectory, which can allow them to move back to their higher percentile in the growth chart.

This indicates that addressing the conditions undermining sleep quality, including stress, restless legs syndrome, hormonal disturbances, and depression might likewise be beneficial.

The effects of sleep deprivation and weight gain and height

This is another mechanism through which the sleep habits of children can affect their growth spurts.

Children who are unable to sleep well at night are at a higher risk of obesity. The risk of weight gain has been well established in adults as well as children by various research studies.

The mechanism of believed to be linked to the hormonal changes occurring in the body as a result of sleep loss and their effect on the normal metabolic processes occurring in the body.

The association appears to be similar in adults and children.

These studies have shown that children who do not get enough sleep to meet the needs of their body to support growth, repair, and development processes are at a higher risk of undermining their overall health and wellness.

Independent studies aimed at evaluating the impact of sleep on the growth processes have supported the fact that sleep deprivation could be associated with the increased risk of weight gain and impairment of growth spurts.

In 2002, one research study of more than 8000 Japanese children between the age of 6 and 7 years showed that having fewer hours of sleep could increase the risk of obesity. This is believed to contribute to the slowing down of the metabolic rate of the body due to which the bone formation processes might be affected. As a result, the bones may fail to grow fully resulting in a shorter stature. [7]

In 2005, one research study showed that infants less than 30 months of age who were sleep deprived were more likely to be obese later at the age of 7 years. This study has hypothesized that sleep disruptions might cause permanent damage to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus that is responsible for regulating energy expenditure and appetite. [8]

The damage to the hypothalamus could affect the body’s signaling mechanisms involved in regulating the secretion of hormones. It might lead to a decline in the secretion of growth hormone due to which the child’s height could get affected.

Moreover, the damage to the hypothalamus might also hamper the energy expenditure by the body’s cells and tissues. As a result, the body may not be able to utilize calories efficiently thus contributing to further weight gain.

Children suffering from obesity due to these reasons often experience difficulties in staying physically active. They may avoid interactions with others for the fear of being teased due to their weight issues. Furthermore, the weight gain may slow down their movements and make them less agile and flexible due to which they would lag behind in sports activities.

These reasons could prevent the child from participating in physical activities that play an important role in stimulating growth spurts.

Thus, the lack of adequate physical activities due to obesity can prevent the proper development of children due to which they may grow to be shorter in stature.

Hence, parents whose children suffer from sleep disorders should seek medical attention to detect the possible causes and correct the underlying issues. This would help to prevent obesity, restore a healthy metabolism, enable efficient energy expenditure, and improve growth spurts.

These improvements would support the normal development of the child and help him attain a good height. [9]


Parents should ensure their children are able to sleep well at night without any disturbances. If the child suffers from any disorder that could affect his sleep, parents should seek appropriate medical intervention to eliminate the cause and restore healthy growth.

Being aware of the importance of sleep for supporting the growth of children can allow parents to adopt healthy measures aimed at increasing the height of their child.


  1. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/sleep-growth.html
  2. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/4/e55
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC297368/
  4. https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/38/4/870
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8627466/
  6. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/4/e55
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2214.2002.00260.x
  8. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/48634
  9. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-sleep-problems-affect-growth-in-children-3015073

I am a doctor and working as a research based Medical Writer and Editor for more than 8 years. Passion for writing and an excellent medical background are my strong points. I love to combine my two passions into a profession wherein I can write professional articles in the field of medicine, health, and nutrition.​