The Importance of Sleep


You know you are pretty sleep-deprived if you're looking forward to the fall clock change! That's how it was for me this past Sunday. Just imagining an extra hour of sleep sounded so luxurious. It's not just parents who are sleep-deprived; it's our kids are too. Jam-packed schedules of school, an after-school activity and/or a sport, dinner, followed by homework is sending our kids to bed later and later. Let's face it, unless they're done, we can't relax either. On a more serious note, according the The Journal of Sleep, lack of sleep can manifest in depressive symptoms and and even suicidal thoughts in children so just like food and water is essential for our health, so is healthy sleep.

Good Sleep-hygiene

The Academy of pediatrics recommends that elementary-aged kids get 10-12 hours of sleep, preteens get 10, and teens get 9. A prescription for healthy sleep:  

  • Have a consistent bedtime. Your body well get accustomed to sleeping at the right time.

  • Create a bedtime routine for your children (and yourselves) - put phones and computers away, dim the lights and do something calming a half-hour before bed such as a hot shower, some light reading, drinking a glass of warm milk, or whatever is relaxing.

  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom. The light from phones and computers inhibit melatonin production (the sleep-inducing hormone) and keep us falsely alert. Checking texts at night disrupts sleep.

Sleep and Weight Gain

Believe it or not, sleep deprivation can affect your weight. A recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that after a night of limited sleep, people ate an average of 385 extra calories the next day, the equivalent of a frosted cupcake or serving of French fries! They also consumed less protein and more fat. Hormones that control our appetite are regulated by good quality sleep too. For the sake of mental and physical health, make sure everyone in your house gets their zzz's. Need help convincing your kids? This video sums it up in a fun way.