Wish you could go to sleep, wake up and magically be just a little bit healthier? You can—and your kids can, too!
Surprisingly, sleep (and lack of it) plays a big role in both hunger level and food preferences. Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases chemicals that actually make you hungrier?
Sleep deprivation makes your body crave foods that make you “feel better” or, as many of us in the South call them, “comfort foods.” These are unhealthy foods that tend to be higher in sugar, salt and fat. Sure, after eating them you feel better in the moment, but it’s a temporary fix because you haven’t solved the real problem—sleep deprivation.
The same goes for our kids. When they get enough sleep, they not only eat better, they’re able to learn better, handle emotions and be more active during the day. One of our roles as parents is to ensure our children get enough sleep. Here are three tips to help your kids sleep better:
- Turn off all screens (TV, phones, handheld devices, etc.) one hour before bedtime. Not only will this help kids begin to settle down for bed, it’ll also help limit screen time for the day (which is one of Strong4Life’s 4 Healthy Habits).
- Make sleep a routine. Set a schedule so kids get used to going to bed and getting up at around the same time every day (especially in the summer, when schedules aren’t as regular).
- At bedtime, ban hand-held devices from the bedroom. The burst of light from a phone (even if it’s just to check the time) can break a sleep cycle. A regular alarm clock is best. (Plus, getting devices out of the bedroom means kids can’t text, call or play at all hours of the night.)
When your kids were babies, you worked hard to get them on a good sleep schedule, right? Often, as kids get older, we stop paying as much attention to sleep—but we shouldn’t! Elementary school children generally need 9 to 12 hours of shut-eye each night. If your child is sleepy at school or falling asleep watching TV in the afternoon, it’s a red flag.
Good sleep habits also have an extra benefit for busy parents. In addition to improving the health of your children, they provide you with additional downtime to take care of the million things you have to do a day!
So treat your family to better sleep and watch what happens. Tonight’s the perfect night to start your new prescription for a healthier family with our sleep tips.
About The Author
With more than a dozen years of experience in promoting wellness, Medical Director of Child Wellness Stephanie Walsh, MD, is a leader in the field. A board-certified pediatrician and diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, Dr. Walsh played an instrumental role in establishing the Children’s Strong4Life movement. As a working mom with three boys, ages 18, 16 and 14, Dr. Walsh knows the real challenges of parenting, and it’s her personal mission to help Georgia families become healthier and happier.Bio