How Nightly Routines and Relaxation Techniques Can Improve the Quality of Your Child’s Sleep

From the desk of Michele Foster –

Unlike adults, children don’t always appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. While parents look forward to slipping under the covers at the end of a long day, kids find plenty of creative excuses to delay bedtime. Unfortunately, bedtime delays can decrease the quality and duration of your child’s sleep and affect his or her behavior and performance at school. Following a few of these suggestions can help you ensure that your child gets enough rest at night.

Pay Attention to Sleep Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily sleep totals for kids:

  • 4 to 12 Months. 12 to 16 hours
  • 1 to 2 Years. 11 to 14 hours
  • 3 to 5 Years. 10 to 13 hours
  • 6 to 12 Years. Nine to 12 hours
  • 13 to 18 Years. Eight to 10 hours

Even slight sleep deficits can affect your child’s grades. A Savvy Sleeper survey revealed that high schoolers who got 8.1 hours of sleep received mostly As, while their peers who only slept for 7.3 hours got Cs.

Control the Environment

Sleep environment plays a crucial role in sleep quality. Your child may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep if he or she doesn’t have a dark, quiet place to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that the 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum temperature for quality sleep.

It can be difficult to sleep if your blanket is scratchy or your bed is too small. Kids can outgrow cribs or toddler beds quickly. Make sure your child’s bed is at least a foot longer than his or her height. Soft bedding and a supportive pillow (if your child is 2 or older) will help keep your child comfortable during the night.

Ban Digital Devices and TV Before Bed

Blue light from smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs can interfere with your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ask your kids to turn off devices at least an hour before bed to prevent sleep quality problems.

Set a Bedtime

Kids are more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep when parents set and enforce bedtimes, according to a Canadian study. In fact, both kids and parents benefit when they go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Ideally, sleep and wake up times should be approximately the same whether it’s a weekend or weekday.

Limit Caffeine

Chances are you would have trouble falling and staying asleep if you downed a big cup of coffee in the evening. Kids may have just as much difficulty if they drink caffeinated drinks in the hours before bedtime. Water or milk are better, healthier options.

Embrace Routine

Routines help your child wind down at the end of the day and set the stage for sleep. For younger children, the bedtime routine may include a bath and story, while older kids may enjoy board games, free play or reading a favorite book 30 to 60 minutes before turning the lights out. Starting routines early may even help prevent bedtime struggles as your child grows older.

Help Your Kids Relax

Stress doesn’t only affect adults. Worries about grades, friends or the monster under the bed can trigger stress and anxiety that make it hard for children and adolescents to fall asleep. Teaching your child meditation, calming yoga poses or progressive relaxation techniques can help them learn to relax at bedtime. Progressive relaxation involves tensing then relaxing muscle groups, starting with the lower part of the body first.

Does your child have sleep issues? We’ll find the source of the problem and offer suggestions and treatments designed to improve sleep quality. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

National Sleep Foundation: Find Out What the Ideal Thermostat Setting Is to Help You Snooze Longer

https://www.sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/

BMC Public Health: Do Parents’ Support Behaviours Predict Whether or Not Their Children Get Sufficient Sleep? A Cross-Sectional Study

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442855/

National Sleep Foundation: Children and Sleep

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/children-and-sleep

Healthy Children: Healthy Sleep Habits

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sleep/Pages/Healthy-Sleep-Habits-HTo YOurow-Many-Hours-Does-Your-Child-Need.aspx

Savvy Sleeper: Costing Kids Sleep, 7/7/19

https://www.savvysleeper.org/costing-kids-sleep/

Self-Care for Health and Stress Management

Do you struggle with so many responsibilities in life that you forget to take care of yourself? You might be dealing with the care of your children, perhaps you are a caregiver for a family member, or maybe you are giving  150% of your energy to a business you are trying to launch.

And, while it is hard to prioritize something like getting in just 30 minutes of exercise when you have so many other things on your to-do list, remember that self-care is an important aspect of stress management.

How Self-Care Benefits You:

However, if you want to feel more resilient and better able to manage life’s stresses, you need to take time for self-care.  A walk around the park, a long soak in the tub or other forms of pampering renew you inside and out. Taking time out to maintain self-care has several benefits:

It Makes You a Better Caregiver

When people ignore their own self-care, and forget to tend to their own needs,  they risk deeper levels of self pity, low self-esteem, and feelings of anger and bitterness.

Sometimes people who spend most of their time taking care of others can be at risk for burn out, which in turn, makes it very difficult to care for others, much less themselves.

In reality, when you care for yourself regularly,  you make you a better caregiver for others.

It Affects Your Health & Wellness

While self-care doesn’t always lead to any health and wellness enhancements, the way healthy a diet and exercise do, the relaxation you get from self-care can trigger a decompression response… which can prevent persistent stress from damaging your health.

It Affects Your Emotional Well-being

If you feel like stress is taking over your life, think how you can better handle its effects and find relief in simpler routines.

Taking time out to care for yourself can remind you, and others, that you also have needs that are important too.

And, when you take care of  yourself — you feel better about yourself and your life. This sends a message to family and friends around you – that you value yourself. It also contributes to your long-term feelings of well-being.

The Importance of Self-Care

It goes without saying that if you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, including down-time in your schedule and making time for friends, you already understand the importance of self-care.

However, a few hours of self-indulgence on a regular basis is also a good idea. A couple of hours of  ‘me-time’ for a spa treatment might be just the ticket to help manage the stress, and here’s why:

It Calms Chaotic Feelings

Giving your body special treatment is an inherent way to alleviate stress. Besides keeping your skin soft and your body well maintained, spa-like activities, like massage, and warm baths have been known to comfort even cranky babies like nothing else.

Similar activities continue to be effective means to an end, providing the necessary diversions we need as we get older, however, sometimes we forget to make use of them.

It Gives You a Break from Stress

Spending some time in a bubble bath, or taking the time for a full body massage can help you relax and escape the day to day stressful reality, providing a  mental and emotional break.

As previously mentioned, it triggers the relaxation response and allows you to come back to the reality of your life feeling refreshed and relaxed.

It Gives You Time Alone

Whether you are an extrovert, or an introvert, having some time along is important to most people in order to function at your most efficient.

When you give yourself some down time, it’s much easier to slip into a state of quiet introspection and soul searching, giving your mind the chance to work on problems without taking all of your attention.

The No. 1 Way to Keep Metabolism Soaring Post-Workout

You know that your metabolism gets a big boost during exercise. That’s why you burn more calories by running than by sitting. But there are ways to trick your metabolism into running strong all day long, even hours after you exercise.

Metabolism consists of hormones and enzymes converting food into fuel; this fuel provides the energy the body needs to do daily tasks like thinking, all the way through to more active tasks like biking or yoga. When your metabolism is working at its peak—such as when you’re running at your race pace on a treadmill—you are creating and using energy more efficiently. As your body plows through those calories, you’ll lose weight faster and streamline your journey to a fitter physique.

So how do you keep your metabolism cranking after you’ve untied your shoes, showered, and settled in at your desk? It’s all about those first moments after your workout, says Paul Arciero, Ed.D., a professor of exercise and nutrition at Skidmore College and director of the school’s Human Nutrition and Metabolism Lab.

“The best trick to keep your metabolism high after you work out is eating 20 to 30 grams of protein, preferably whey,” he says.

Protein takes more energy for your body to digest and absorb than other types of food; you may burn 25 percent of the protein calories you consume just by eating. After eating protein your body will stay in overdrive, which means you’ll process more calories more quickly in the minutes and hours to come. Also, protein helps your body build more muscle, and the more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolism burns. Whey protein is one of the most easily absorbed types of protein, which is why Arciero is such an advocate of the stuff.

Of course, what you do during your workout can also affect how well your body burns calories later in the day. Arciero suggests sprint workouts to really maximize your post-workout metabolic boost. Intervals—such as alternating one minute all-out and one minute of recovery—send your metabolism soaring as you exercise and keep it running strong for hours after too. Follow an interval fitness session with a protein-rich snack, such as a whey protein smoothie, for the ultimate metabolism jumpstart.

Source: shape.com ~ By: Liz Simmons ~ Image: pixabay.com

Diet quality improves fitness among the fittest

In two recent peer-reviewed papers published by Nutrients and Growth Hormone and IGF-1 Research, Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero and colleagues report proven benefits of consuming moderate amounts of protein regularly throughout the day (protein-pacing) combined with a multi-dimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching and endurance exercise.

Based on Arciero’s studies, when followed for 12 weeks or more, individuals show improved fitness, decreased total and abdominal fat, increased lean body mass, and optimal metabolic and heart health.

To make the diet and exercise regimen easy for the public to remember, Arciero has coined the acronym, “PRISE.” The “P” stands for protein-pacing, the “R” stands for “resistance,” the “I” stands for “interval,” the “S” stands for stretching, and the “E” stands for endurance.

“Whether your goal is to improve fitness or heart health, the quality of your diet and a multi-dimensional exercise training regimen (PRISE) can make all the difference,” said Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero. “It’s not about simply eating less calories and doing more exercise. It’s about eating the right foods at the right time and incorporating a combination of exercises that most effectively promotes health and fitness.”

A member of the advisory board of the American Heart Association and a fellow of both the American College of Sports Medicine and the Obesity Society, Arciero is very familiar with the diet and exercise recommendations issued by these and other governing health organizations.

Arciero and his team enlisted 30 women and 20 men between the ages of 30 and 65 who could clearly be described as ‘physically fit’. They entered the study reporting they exercised a minimum of four days per week for at least 45 minutes per session, including both resistance and aerobic training for at least the past three years. Combined, these men and women had an average body mass index of 25 and average body fat percentage of 26.

Dividing his subjects randomly into two groups, Arciero conducted a 12-week trial in which all subjects consumed the same amount of calories and performed the identical exercise routine he has previously demonstrated to improve health (PRISE), but diet quality differed. One group consumed commonly recommended protein and fitness/sport nutrition products and the second group consumed a slightly increased protein intake and antioxidant-rich supplements.

When the trial ended, Arciero and his team found that although both groups improved on nearly every measure, those who had followed the protein-pacing and antioxidant-rich diet showed the greatest improvements in fitness, including upper body muscular endurance and power, core strength, and blood vessel health (reduced artery stiffness) among female participants; and upper and lower body muscular strength and power, aerobic power, and lower back flexibility among male participants.

These findings support three earlier studies by Arciero’s team that showed the PRISE protocol of protein- pacing with either whole food sources or whey protein supplementation, were equally effective at improving physical fitness, as well as decreasing total, abdominal and visceral fat, increasing the proportion of lean muscle mass and significantly reducing blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels.

Overall, these five studies support a rethinking of current assumptions about diet and exercise, which Arciero believes place too much focus on the quantity of calories eaten and amount of exercise people do, rather than the quality of the food eaten and the exercise.

For Arciero, PRISE is the culmination of research he has conducted and published over the last 30 years in an attempt to identify the most effective lifestyle strategies to improve health and physical performance.

“My original intention of becoming a nutrition and exercise science researcher was to provide people the tools to live a life of optimal health,” said Arciero.

Source: sciencedaily.com ~ Image: pixabay.com

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity

Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.

Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

1. Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.

2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

3. Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to hit the hay.

6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and physical appearance, which may boost your sex life.

But there’s even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

7. Exercise can be fun … and social!

Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, boost your health and have fun. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.

Try to engage in a combination of vigorous and moderate aerobic exercises, such as running, walking or swimming. Squeeze in strength training at least twice per week by lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body weight exercises.

Space out your activities throughout the week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to ramp up your exercise efforts.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

Source: mayoclinic.org ~ Image: pixabay.com