Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't underestimate the power of sleep!

Randy Rolfe, parenting expert, recommends attending to your children's basic needs first. It's the Second Secret in her book The Seven Secrets of successful Parents.

Although we assume that in modern America the basic needs of children are more than met except among the very poor, basic needs like nutrition, quiet, and sleep are often lacking. Here is a very instructive report about new studies linking sleep and many of the most prevalent metabolic issues facing our children today, including emotional issues like irritability and attention problems. But first a story.

When I was a child, my preschool teacher asked my mother why I seemed so content. Her answer was that I got 10 hours of sleep a night and played outside in nature most of the afternoon. To this day I have treasured my sleep as a time of renewal and never short-changed myself. My heart goes out to those who don't sleep. The day is just that much harder. And there is lots you can do without resorting to drugs!

But back to our kids. I made sure my children had good sleep habits and they too were contented, easy to raise children. So start with good sleep habits and your parenting will be easier for sure!

Here is the article:

Children Need More Sleep to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes
Submitted by Deborah Mitchell on 2011-01-24

Children who get more sleep are more likely to weigh less and avoid metabolic factors that predispose them to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study. If your children are getting less than 9 hours of sleep per night, they need more.
Catch-up sleep on weekends lowers obesity risk.
Parents can recognize when their children do not get enough sleep, because they may be cranky and less alert. Research shows that insufficient sleep among children can result in behavior problems, poorer performance on cognitive tests, and more injuries.
An earlier study from the University of California reported that a lack of adequate nighttime sleep among infants and preschool children was a significant risk factor for obesity later in childhood. Inadequate sleep is also known to weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to infections.
A new study by investigators at the University of Chicago and published in Pediatrics shows an association between insufficient sleep and obesity and other metabolic problems. One major finding was that children ages 4 to 10 who got the least amount of sleep and who had the most irregular sleep schedules were greater than 4.4-fold more likely to be obese.
David Gozal, MD, of the University of Chicago, and his research team evaluated 308 healthy children over a one-week period. The children wore wrist actigraphs to record their sleep duration and patterns.
Researchers found that the children averaged about eight hours of sleep per night, regardless of day of the week or the child’s weight. The recommended amount is 9 to 10 hours.
Among other findings was that less sleep (about 6.5 hours) and irregular sleep patterns were associated with altered levels of insulin, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and C-reactive protein (an indication of inflammation and cardiovascular risk). The authors concluded that “the longer and more-stable sleep duration is, the less likely a child is to manifest metabolic dysfunction.”
On the upside, children who got extra sleep on the weekends lowered their risk of obesity to less than 2.2-fold. Overall, the study results indicated that children who consistently get 9 to 10 hours of sleep on both weekdays and weekends have the healthiest metabolic profile.
If you are a parent who would like to help your children get more sleep to ward off obesity, diabetes, and other health problems, you can find some help online. The National Sleep Foundation offers tips for kids, as does WebMD with Sleep Tips for Kids.
Spruyt K et al. Pediatrics 2011; 127:e345-52

So get your children to leave the smart phones downstairs, keep TVs and PCs out of the bedroom, and send them to bed in time to get 10 hours sleep before they must prepare for school. Also, keep digital clocks away from the child's head - the vibes are disturbing - and be patient as you work through resistance the first couple of nights. Improved mood - and better health - will be a welcome payoff for both of you!

Check out more about Basic Needs in Randy Rolfe's book the Seven Secrets of Successful Parents. Find her other books on her website at Wellness products for improved sleep can be found at

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