Family Health: Let’s Talk About Sleep
By: Chloe Taylor
Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together. – Thomas Dekker
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Sleep plays a vital role in one’s life. It is essential for health and wellbeing, and it is what determines how you will feel physically and mentally when you’re awake. Still, according to Canadian Sleep Society, more than 70 percent of Canadians sleep less than seven hours a night, which means that they don’t give sleep the highest priority. Sleep is even more important for kids who are in their developing years, but the parents know how difficult can it be to get their kids to get accustomed to a certain healthy routine. Let us see why sleep is such a crucial aspect in family life, what happens when it isn’t prioritized and how to improve it.
The Hazards of Sleep Deprivation
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Insufficient sleep can affect judgment, ability to learn and memorize information, mood and concentration. It can increase risk of accidents and injury, and if it lasts for a long time it can lead to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and even early mortality. For kids, not getting enough sleep can lead to problems with attention, memory and behavior. Short sleep can also result in metabolic changes and other health issues.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
According to National Sleep Foundation, the sleep time you actually need depends on our own body, but there are rough guidelines according to your age:
- Newborns: 14 – 17 hours
- Infants: 12 – 15 hours
- Toddlers: 11 – 14 hours
- Preschoolers: 10 – 13 hours
- School-age kids (6 to 13 years old): 9 – 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 to 17 years old): 8 – 10 hours
- Young adults (up to age 25): 7 – 9 hours
- Adults: 7 – 9 hours
- Seniors (over 65): 7 – 8 hours.
Quality Counts Too
You have to be aware that not only the time you and your kids spend sleeping is important. The quality of sleep also contributes to overall health and mood. Interrupted sleep patterns can cause tiredness and so can an uncomfortable bed. Choosing a mattress that suits you and supports your back and body is essential.
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Couples should find a bounce-resistant mattress, which is muting vibration and comes in the form of two different mattresses (soft or firm) so that they can choose according to their needs. For kids, it is best to choose memory foam (or some other quality fabric) and allergy-resistant mattress, while teenagers and young adults could benefit from a comfortable king single mattress.
The Benefits of “Good Night’s Sleep”
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Sleep contributes to proper brain functioning. During that time, your brain is being prepared for the next day. It is involved in healing and repairing of the blood vessels and heart. It maintains a healthy balance of hormones and affects the way body reacts to insulin. Sleep plays a huge role in puberty and fertility. A good night’s sleep can help in children’s behavior issues and improve their learning skills.
Improving Sleeping Habits
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It is crucial for both parents and children to have stable sleeping habits and to stick to them. Here are some golden rules to obey.
- Have a bedtime routine.
- Get enough fresh air.
- Be physically active.
- Keep the sleeping time consistent.
- Remove all distractions from the bedroom (TV, computer, etc.).
- Limit the number of times a child gets up from bed during the night.
- Reward good behavior.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and food after 3pm.
- Have your own bedtime routine.
- Incorporate physical activity.
- Limit the media use in the bedroom.
- Relax with reading, music, yoga, etc.
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On average, we spend one third of our life sleeping, which makes this aspect of our lives far more important than we like to give it credit. It is even more significant when it comes to children. So take what we said into account, and improve the overall sleep quality of your entire family.