The World Health Organization (WHO) model defines “health” as well-being, and not merely the absence of disease. We all know what it feels like when we get a poor night’s sleep. You feel groggy, you make poor or irrational decisions, you find yourself reaching for calorie-dense foods or drinks that provide instant stimulus rather than nutritional benefit, your mind is constantly wandering and all you can think about is how tired you are. Based on the WHO definition of health, then surely, this sleep deprived state is ‘unhealthy’.
SleepHealth.org has stated that sleep deprivation is experienced 70% of the population at least once per month, and by 11% of the population every day. With the surge in technology that has provided us with phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, games, e-books and the ever present desire to be connected to this equipment, it is a very big concern for the parents of young children. Our kids are going to grow up with these appliances always present, and always on. Not only will they be more attached to these devices at rest and bed times, but the technology itself is only going to grow and adapt into the future to make it harder and harder to be without our ‘precious’ tools.
Not only are the current statistics very worrying, but with out kids growing up with this stuff (literally) in their face at all times of day and night, who knows what damage might be being done right now to their fragile brains! There is some good news though, and that is that physical exercise has been shown to improve individual’s sleep patterns.
If you can get your children involved in kids fitness classes or organised sport, this will help to develop good behaviour patterns both physically and mentally.
Exercise not only gets kids off these devices for prolonged periods of time, but it also provides an external stimulus to avoid having an excess of energy by the time they should be ready to go to sleep. Regular organised exercise also helps to develop good routines in eating patterns, improved social interaction between peers, increased respect for coaches and volunteers and a reduced dependance on technological stimuli.
Along with the benefits of realigning bad habits caused by a dependance on technological entertainment, it is also going to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Physical activity is known to improve posture, bone density, muscle elasticity, hand-eye coordination, balance, concentration, problem solving and it will lead to better overall health as kids get older.
Keeping your kids active and healthy will ensure that your whole family is sleeping better, and who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep!
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