Sometimes children seem to increase height at an extremely rapid pace – sometimes almost overnight. But the phenomenon commonly referred to as growth spurts has been more or less largely disregarded by the medical community as nothing more than a play on perception that is contributed to by the rapid growth children can exhibit during pre-pubescence and puberty.
But researchers at the University of Wisconsin now think differently. In a recent study, the bones of live lambs were monitored with attached sensors to monitor their rate of growth. The results were quite surprising to many that doubted the ability of young mammals to increase height rapidly in bursts.
The results showed that approximately 90% of bone growth takes place during sleep periods. Researchers hypothesized that while moving and standing, the pressure present on the bones inhibit growth and so the vast majority of height growth takes place during sleep.
To Increase Height, Sleep Is Necessary
Though the study concentrated on lambs and not humans, the results are thought to largely replicate human physiology. The research was conducted at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. The results were published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.
Sleeping periods were not the only time that the lambs seemed to increase height; waking periods at rest were also observed to show active height growth periods.
The author of the study, Norman Wilsman said, “We observed this noncontinuous pattern of growth, but what was reallly interesting was that the bones were growing only when the animals were lying down, and almost no growth occurs when the lambs are standing or moving around.” He reasoned from studying the results that the soft cartilage known as growth plates, located at the ends of bones, are too compressed at times of moving and standing to grow. However, when lying down at rest, the pressure is alleviated, allowing growth by giving the bones a chance to elongate.
It was also pointed out that the growth is not continuous – there are growth spurts in the body’s efforts to increase height. These growth spurts often result what’s known as growing pains and may last from a few days to much longer. Growing pains can be almost overwhelmingly intense for some children at times and the pain is typically felt at the lower extremeties, approximately where the growth plates are located.