Sleep,for both adults and children, represents one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle alongside diet and exercise. It is particularly important amongst younger people as they are still developing and need all the health boons that come with slumber which include weight maintenance and protection from illnesses.
One of the main benefits of sleep comes through the hormones that are released during this period of inactivity. There are many different hormones which all go to work to maintain and repair the body in different ways. There are hormones which attempt to fix broken cells and thus prevent cancer, there are hormones which cause children to grow and develop and there are those which attack viruses and other potential illnesses. Only by ensuring a correct amount of sleep will these hormones be released efficiently and be able to do their job to the optimum standards.
There are also hormones, called Leptin and Grehlin, which are released during sleep which help combat weight problems; they act by ensuring the correct level of appetite and dietary requirements are understood by the body. It has been found that those who do not sleep the suggested are more than likely to find themselves feeling inappropriately hungry afterwards. It is because of this that there is a direct correlation between BMI and sleep in young children. Findings have suggested that children who get less than thirty per cent of the suggested amount of sleep at two and a half years old were forty per cent more likely to be obese than those who got the correct amount.
As well as hormones released during slumber times it has been found that sleep can also have a positive correlation on exercise and vice versa. Children who partake in physical activity every day also find sleep easier to attain. Only thirty minutes a day of exercise, be that running, walking, playing or similar, will not only burn calories but also make the process of sleeping much easier. This, as established earlier, is great for releasing hormones which help maintain weight.
How to get sleep
Different amounts of sleep are required for different age groups. For new-borns a night’s sleep should be between sixteen and twenty hours, albeit in increments rather than in one go, and this figure should reduce with age. For example, for the four years leading up until the age of seven the recommended amount of sleep should be eleven hours and for adults the figure should have fallen steeply to between seven and nine hours.To ensure a great night’s sleep is had there are several different aspects which need to be taken into consideration.
Firstly it is easier to sleep when a pattern, or circadian rhythm, is established. This means making sure that bed and wake up time are always the same. This puts the body into a routine in which it is more susceptible to slumber.More approaches than can be taken to help sleep are, aside from the aforementioned periods of exercise, by attempting to make the bedroom environment more sleep friendly.
- The first action that can be undertaken can be to put up heavy curtains that block out all sunlight; the body is stimulated by light and this can help it stay awake. Due to this even small lights, such as a television screen or monitor, can have a detrimental effect upon sleep.
- The other main area of helping children sleep is to ensure that the room is an appropriate temperature; around 18 degrees is the optimum amount for ensuring a good night’s rest.
About the author
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of topics including home and family, nursery bedding , health and the environment.