A few health tips for kids going back to school
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Many children and teens will be adjusting their sleep and eating routines as they adjust to the school routine. Healthcare providers offer some advice on ways that students can stay healthy, especially in regards to nutrition and sleep.
Joshua Wood, a Physician’s Assistant at Northern Light Health, says that kids need an average of 10 hours of sleep per night. He explains that this may be difficult to achieve without good sleep hygiene. “The best things to do for getting a good night’s sleep are to avoid food a couple hours before bed, to have a nice calming activity, you want dim lighting about an hour before bed to let your mind rest,” Wood explains.
Falling asleep may be difficult for some. Wood further advises that people not use their electronics before bed, especially if they can’t fall asleep. “Stimulating light will wake the mind up and keep it active,” he says.
Another potential cause of having trouble sleeping may be a poor bedtime routines. Wood says people should establish a nightly routine that involves dim lighting and a calming activity, such as reading, doing a puzzle, or drawing. “If you’re not able to fall asleep within 10-15 minutes you want to get up and get out of bed,” Wood advises. “You should not stay in bed and toss and turn all night - you should only go to bed when you actually feel tired.” Wood says if people cannot fall asleep they should resume their calming activity until they are tired.
Nutrition is also important for being ready for school and feeling less tired in the morning. Wood advises parents and teens to incorporate whole grains into their daily meals and recommends that over half of every plate be filled with fruits or vegetables.
Additionally, Wood warns against parents giving their children fruit juice on a regular basis. “It tends to be packed with a lot of sugar,” Wood explains. “Instead it’s much healthier and builds a much better habit to get kids invested in eating whole fruits . . . if you could find 100% fruit juice that has no sugar added that would probably be okay, but I think even the pediatrician would still recommend to water it down.”
Wood explains that it’s important to develop a healthy routine. “As we’re adults we tend to not eat the healthiest, but if we set those habits as kids they tend to stick a lot better,” says Wood. Routines around healthy sleep and nutrition will prepare kids for learning.
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