Dr Tom Smith: Sleep and growth | The knowledge

My children hardly sleep at night. Could this stunt their growth?

In theory, yes. We only produce growth hormone when we sleep. It 'switches off ' when we wake, so our growth slows down and even stops in the day. If your children are not sleeping long enough, they could fall short of their potential adult height by as much as two inches. Keep the video games and TV out of the bedroom, and cultivate good habits - things like a warm bath before bedtime, a dark and quiet room, and a comfortable, warm bed with no rubbish on it. Explain that they grow only when asleep. All children want to grow tall: it will help persuade them to settle down at night.

Can using your brain really make you more intelligent?

London cabbies always have something to say, and one has been Britain's Mastermind. Dr Eleanor Maguire and her team at University College London, suggest a reason they are so bright. They found that studying The Knowledge for a few years enlarges a cabby's hippocampus, a part of the brain heavily involved in memory and reasoning. The longer he or she has been a cabby, the larger the hippocampus. If you aren't into map reading, try cryptic crosswords. Professor Zaven Khachaturian, of the US Institutes of Health - an expert in Alzheimer's - recommends them. He does them in one of his seven second languages. It's not enough stimulation, he says, to do one in your mother tongue.

· Do you have a question for Dr Smith? Email doctordoctor@guardian.co.uk

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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