If you and your children are constantly battling fatigue, you may want to examine your sleep habits. Prolonged exhaustion and sleep deprivation can adversely affect the health and well-being of your family. These tips explore the importance of getting enough sleep in your household.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
In short, we need sleep to heal our bodies, recharge our minds and rejuvenate our energy levels. When people do not get enough sleep in the short-term, they may exhibit signs of lethargy and exhaustion. When individuals routinely live in a state of sleep deprivation, they are more likely to exhibit a variety of health problems including weakened immune systems, mood instability, obesity and high blood pressure.
For children, symptoms of sleep deprivation include clumsiness, mood swings, hyperactivity and problems concentrating. Because children are growing, their bodies need more time to rejuvenate compared to adults. For a child aged 6 to 12, it is estimated that they need anywhere from nine to 12 hours of sleep a night. Adults generally need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you or your children are chronically undersleeping, try the following tips.
Get Enough Exercise
If you or your child find it difficult to get to sleep (and stay as sleep), you may not be getting enough exercise throughout the day. One study found that people who get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week sleep significantly better than those who do not. While exercise facilitates improved sleep, it also leads to people feeling more alert and awake during the day.
One easy way to incorporate more exercise into your family’s day is to minimize the time spent sitting. During the typical work/school day, you and your child may be sitting for six to eight hours straight. To help reduce the adverse effects of prolonged sitting, incorporate energy-boosting activities such as walking, going to the park, playing a game outside or swimming. A little more exercise will boost you and your child’s energy during the day while improving the quality of sleep at night.
Get Into a Routine
Likely, you already have a bedtime routine in place for your child/children; however, did you know adults can also benefit from a sleep schedule? Bedtime routines train our bodies to go to sleep and wake-up at a certain time. If you go to bed at 2 a.m. one day and 7 p.m. on another, your body will have a hard time knowing when it’s time to sleep. Both children and adults can benefit immensely from setting time aside in the evening to unwind and relax. Reading, bedtime stories and calming tea are some great ways to facilitate relaxation for yourself and your children. It’s also important to get your kids on a sleeping schedule if siblings share a bedroom.
Turn Off the Electronics
Electronic use before bedtime has been associated with lower quality sleep. Computers, phones, TVs and tablets, have shown to reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and therefore may make it more difficult for you and your children to fall asleep. The blue lights emitting from devices also stimulates the brain thereby keeping it active rather than passive and relaxed. Combined, restless sleep can be attributed to watching cartoons before bed, reading emails, or scrolling social media.
If your family is routinely tired and sluggish, it’s time to take a good hard look at sleeping habits. When you begin to analyze your household’s sleep patterns, you may be surprised to learn that certain activities either help or hinder sleep quality.
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