Our family’s sleeping habits play a key role in our efforts to prevent childhood obesity and maintain a healthy weight. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese and lead to other behavior issues. Sleep is important for everyone, especially our kids. It’s not just about feeling grumpy or dozing in school, it’s about getting the sleep you need to avoid serious health problems.
Get Your Needed Hours of Sleep
Sleep is like food for the brain. And our brains are hungry for an adequate amount of rest that replenishes our mental and physical energy. During sleep our bodies grow and recover from the day’s activities. For healthy, active kids it’s essential for them to get the necessary hours of sleep for their bodies to fully recover from their daily activities.
Add 15 minutes of sleep each night to get your child used to earlier bedtimes and ensure they are sleeping at least nine hours every night.
How many hours does your child need?
- 5 and under – 11 hours
- 5 to 10 – 10 hours
- 10 to 18 – 9 hours
Create a Bedtime Routine
Children respond well to structure. A nightly routine that makes bedtime a sacred time of day can be the structure your child needs to improve his or her sleeping habits. Establish a regular bedtime and create a routine every night to get your child’s body accustomed to winding down for sleep.
Stick to quiet, calm activities before bedtime and avoid TV, computers, and telephones during the hour before bed. Use bathing, brushing teeth, and story time as tools to structure your bedtime routine. Chapter books are great ways to set a predetermined amount of reading time and give your children something to look forward to every night.
Sleep in a Dark Room
A peaceful environment means better sleep. It means your continuous sleep will be longer and those hours of sleep will be more restful.
Make your child’s bedroom the perfect place to relax and sleep. Encourage your kids to use their beds for sleeping, not watching TV or playing with electronics. Keep their rooms cool, quiet, and dark. You can even try eye shades or blackout curtains, and then let in bright sunlight in the morning to help them wake up.
Food and Sleep
Food can disrupt our sleeping patterns. Avoid big meals before bed and eliminate fatty and fried foods that can create stomach issues and may keep you awake. And it’s not just important to go to sleep but just as important to stay asleep. You can limit sleep interruptions from late night trips to the bathroom and bad dreams by avoiding drinks and meals close to bedtime.
Better Sleep Means Less Illness
Sleep is important to keep your body and immune system strong. With our school-aged children, sleep is one of the factors we can control and use to fight off unwanted colds and viruses. Along with eating healthily, getting quality sleep keeps our immune systems healthy and will lead to fewer illnesses..