Motivation to Help You Put Your Kids to Bed - Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Diabetes

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

If you are a parent to young children, you likely enforce a bedtime every night for your little ones. But sometimes it’s hard to resist when your child begs for you to “read just one more story” or have “just a few more minutes before bedtime.” You may find it especially difficult to not give in, now that school season has started. Many parents bend the rules during summer, because they love their kids and simply want them to have fun!

But it is really important to stay strong and hold your ground, because making sure your child gets adequate sleep may do more than just help prevent crankiness and fatigue during the day. Adequate sleep may help prevent a disease affecting more than 20 million Americans - diabetes!

In a recent study, conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), researchers found evidence that children who do not get enough sleep at night may be at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (TD2).

The study examined more than 4,500 children (ages 9 and 10) in Britain.

Here are further details of the study:

  • Habitual sleep time was noted: Self-reported time of normally going to bed and time of waking up on a school day.
  • Fasting blood samples were measured: Serum lipids and insulin, plasma glucose (how much sugar/glucose is circulating in the blood) and HbA1c (measures average blood sugar levels).
  • Physical measurements were taken: Height, weight, bioimpedance and blood pressure.

It is important to note this particular study did not follow the children long enough to see if any of them actually developed diabetes, but higher risk factors for diabetes were found in the children who did not get enough sleep at night.

The study found that the children who slept an hour more per night had a lower body mass index (BMI), lower fat mass index (FMI), lower blood sugar levels and a reduction in insulin resistance.

So how much sleep is enough sleep?

In the study, children on average slept 10.5 hours per night. An adult can only dream of sleeping this much every night, right?!

But you may be surprised to find out just how much sleep children need, depending on their age.

To see how the AAP breaks it down by age, click here.

What if you have trouble getting your kid to bed? 

It is true you cannot force your child to sleep, but you can do the following, in order to help your child wind down and get to bed:

  • Unplug. Although they are some of the greatest things that happened to civilization, electronic devices may interfere with your kids getting to bed. The AAP recommends cutting your child off from electronic devices (cell phone, TV, computer, iPAD, anything with a screen) at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Be habitual. Younger children are creatures of habit. Even though they may ask for more time before bed, their little bodies really want structure. Check out AAP’s bedtime program,Brush, Book, Bed.” All it may take is a simple routine to help prevent your child from developing diabetes.
  • Remain calm, stand your ground. If your child cries or throws a tantrum when you put him or her in bed, “speak calmly, reassure your child ‘that he or she is fine and that it is time to go to sleep.’ Make your visit brief, and then leave the room,” the Mayo Clinic suggests. “If your child continues to cry, space out the time between visits to the bedroom, and when you do return, do not do anything but talk calmly, briefly (1-2 minutes), and then leave. No arguments or discussions need to take place.”

There is also a lot you can do nutritionally to help your kids get adequate sleep. Avoid foods and beverages that are processed, have refined sugars or contain caffeine. These may disrupt sleep and digestion and cause acid reflux and heartburn.

If your child usually has a snack before bedtime, the National Sleep Foundation has a list of natural foods and drinks that promote sleep and/or contain melatonin (which helps control your sleep and wake cycles). As a  child, my mom gave me a cup of warm peppermint tea before bed. I had no clue why she used to recommend that I drink it, but now it makes sense. Peppermint is relaxing and helps with digestion.

Instill these healthy bedtime habits into your young ones now, so that they will carry these practices with them into adulthood. Be the example. As adults, it’s hard for us to break away from our phones and work email, but the next time you consider looking at just one more email, think about your child’s health, and yours too! 

Just like eating healthy and exercising, getting enough sleep is a piece in the puzzle of being proactive about your overall health even if you are not a child. When it comes to your health, when you snooze you do not lose!

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Newsletter