Sleeping Patterns and Childhood Obesity

There have been dozen of studies conducted on the correlation between childhood obesity and good sleep patterns. All the research shows strong links between childhood obesity and inadequate sleep as adults.

So, how can we help children establish good sleep habits?

Establish a regular bedtime and wake up time. Parents and children should plan a daily schedule that includes the basic daily sleep requirements for particular age groups. This schedule should be maintained on the weekends, though students can be permitted to sleep in one or two hours on weekend mornings if necessary.

While individual sleep needs can vary, the amount of sleep suggested by sleep experts for particular age groups is:

Up to 2 months - 10.5 to 18 hours
3 to 12 months - 9.5 to 14 hours
1 to 3 years - 12 to 14 hours
3 to 5 years - 11 to 13 hours
5 to 12 years - 10 to 11 hours
Teenagers - 9 to 10 hours

Create a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines are important, regardless of a child's age. It should include at least 15-30 minutes of calm, soothing activities. Discourage television, exercise, computer, and telephone use, and avoid caffeine (found in beverages, chocolate, and other products).

Achieve a balanced schedule. Identify and prioritize activities that allow for downtime and sufficient sleep time. Help students avoid an overloaded schedule that can lead to stress and difficulty coping, which contribute to poor health and sleep problems.

Establishing the routine and schedule will also contribute to other healthy patterns, such as eating and exercise. Here’s to... sleeping happily ever after!