The Importance of Quality Sleep for Your Family’s Health

It is still largely a mystery why we humans need to engage in something as inactive as sleep. Among other things, sleep is believed to be necessary for the brain to be able to store memories and new information. But it is also during sleep that the body produces hormones and repairs damage that has occurred during the day. The problem is that it makes it late into the sleep cycle.

Our sleep consists of five different phases: from phase 1 when we sleep very lightly to phase 4 when we sleep very deeply and finally phase 5 when we sleep so-called REM sleep when we dream. This is why everyone in the family should keep to their sleeping routines, and tend to the quality of sleep. Make sure everyone’s bedroom is well darkened during the night hours, aired and cool, the bedding is comfortable and medically proven like an orthopedic pillow and mattress, and the screen time ends well before bedtime.

Different family members need different amount of sleep based on age

We need all the sleep cycles to feel rested during the day. But it is only from phase 3 that the actual repair process of the body begins and it then continues during phase 4. During these phases, hormones alongside with other essential substances are released, and their “mission” is too occurred to our cells during the day. You therefore need to spend a certain number of hours sleeping to reach this sleep stage that promotes repair. If you do not do this, sleep deprivation can in the long run play its role in developing, among other things, obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental problems.

How long do we have to sleep to get through all five sleep cycles? This has been looked at by a group of independent researchers on behalf of NSF, the National Sleep Foundation. And the answer is: it varies with age. But for the body to have time to recover and for us to function optimally the next day, the perfect sleep span should look like this, according to the new guidelines from NSF:

  • Newborns (0 to 3 months) 14-17 hours per day, including naps
  • Infants (4 to 11 months): 12-15 hours per day, including naps
  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 11-14 hours per day, including naps
  • Preschool children (3 to 5 years): 10-13 hours per day, including naps
  • Gradeschoolers (6 to 13 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14 to 18 years): 8-10 hours
  • Young adults (18 to 25 years): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26 to 64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7 to 8 hours

Children’s sleep at different ages

Children need different amounts of sleep at different ages. How well children and teenagers sleep can be affected by age, developmental stages, anxiety and relationships. For children and adolescents who grow up, sleep is of great importance because growth hormone is largely secreted during sleep.

This is how much sleep children of different ages need:

  • 0-12 months: 15-18 hours per day, but at this age there is a very big difference between different children.
  • 1-3 years: 12-14 hours per day.
  • 3–6 years: 11–12 hours per day.
  • 6–12 years: 10–11 hours per day.
  • 12 years and older: 8-9 hours per day, but some children need more sleep during puberty.

Children under three months sleep most safely in their own bed, in supine position. This dramatically reduces SIDS (sudden infant death).  Many parents find it practical and convenient to sleep with their newborn baby, especially if it helps the baby fall asleep. Many children also sleep best when they feel the presence of a parent or both close to them. Feel free to place your baby’s bed in your room and next to yours if possible. Then you can easily lift the baby over to you when it is feeding time at night. Lay the baby back to their bed when he or she goes to sleep again.

Many newborns sleep together with their parents in so-called baby nests, a mattress with soft edges. There is as yet no research on whether baby nests are safe enough for the baby. There is a certain risk that an adult may roll over the soft edges. A better alternative may be the reclining insert from the pram, which has higher and harder edges. The child should not be too hot. A pair of pajamas and a thin blanket are usually appropriate.

As we have established earlier, the exact need for sleep varies from person to person in your family, but there are few who manage with fewer hours, or who need more hours of sleep. We already know that health is threatened if you consistently sleep less than 7-8 hours. However, the need for sleep can change briefly when the body has an increased need to recover – e.g. when you are sick, stressed or exercising hard. The need for sleep is also affected by age.

If you have the opportunity to sleep undisturbed 5 days in a row, you can test your individual need for the shuteye yourself. This is how you calculate it:

  1. Be careful not to do anything that has a potential of disturbing your sleep (such as evening coffee, alcohol, or outside noise).
  2. Go to bed at your usual time.
  3. Sleep until you wake up by yourself – that is, without ringing the bell!
  4. Note how long you have slept.
  5. Repeat for about 5 days – or until you start waking up at the same time.

Result: For the first 2-3 days – if you suffer from sleep deprivation – you will probably sleep longer than you need to. But then your body will wake up when it has finished sleeping. Your need for sleep is therefore the number of hours you sleep during the last days of the test.

Be aware that the test requires that you are not in a period of stress, anxiety or anything else that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or wake up several times during the night.

The bottom line is, a disorder in sleep is as a legitimate condition as a physical ailment, and you need to troubleshoot if you or everyone else from your near and dear is experiencing it. The first step in this direction is to make some minor lifestyle changes that will go a long way!

The Major Role of Sports In Improving Physical and Mental Health

More physical activity spells less stress

Everyone in your family has the same number of hours a day. But not everyone is equally stressed. Why is that so? You might argue that your kids do not have two mortgages to pay off, three mouths to feed, a job to keep and a dog to walk, but the fact is, they also have their fair share of stress cut to their own measure, with the school, growing and learning to be human. One thing that makes them more adapted to cope with the daily stress is the amount of time they spend doing physical activity. Even if they clock in a decent amount of time at their computers and on their phones, they still get some motion biking to and from school, attending sports clubs or physical education lessons. 

There are many scientific studies that show that physical activity has a very effective antidepressant effect, to the point that it can be considered a real antidepressant drug. This action is most evident in “neurotic” depressions from which none of us are completely free. For psychotic depressions, things change, as they are very serious diseases for which the work of the specialist is required, according to the research called “The Effects of Stress on Physical Activity and Exercise” carried out by the scientists of Department of Psychiatry at Yale Stress Center, Yale University School of Medicine. 

Physical activity strengthens self-esteem, relaxes and cancels the effects of stress: it is the best antidote for psychosomatic diseases. All this is true, however, when training is not directed towards the opponent or victory, but towards oneself, towards one’s body, therefore practiced for one’s own well-being. In this way, possible psychopathological effects are avoided, such as the pre-agonistic syndrome and the post-agonistic syndrome, in addition to the various forms of stardom. So, psychologists say, mass sports yes, as long as the goal of this sport is fitness, not overcoming the opponent, since competitive spirit pushed to the extreme can do a lot of harm to the psyche. Nonetheless the competitive spirit, when the athlete aims to overcome himself, is also good for the mind, because it becomes an extra motivation to live at the fullest, setting competitive limits means getting out of this existential laziness and living life intensely and in good health.

Postpartum depression alleviated at the gym

Physical activity helps mothers produce endorphins, which are also good for the baby. There is no contraindication in practicing your favorite sport, but it is still necessary to have the following precautions:

  • drink at least two liters of water a day;
  • always breastfeed the baby before training;
  • wear a suitable sports bra.

Therefore, playing sports produces endorphins, which have beneficial effects for the mother and the baby. It is also important to maintain a correct diet and optimal lifestyles. The expert has formulated other indications necessary to obtain benefits from the sport that is practiced after childbirth.

Sportive new mothers can therefore continue their activities, but they must listen to their body: therefore, swimming lovers accustomed to doing 100 laps will be able, for example, to reduce the number, but they will not have to give up their sport. If the mother plays sport at a competitive level, she will certainly have to undergo an accurate clinical evaluation.

Health effects of sports for the youngest family members

Children and teenagers benefit from exercise or sports in a major way, the list of benefits is very long indeed. To name a few, increased well-being, strengthened self-confidence, better concentration, increased learning ability, muscle mass increase, better condition and less exposure to stress and traumas. All in all, sports and working out is good for the brain and heart as well as for fun and entertaining.

Today, more and more children are starting to play sports, even though less time is spent outdoors with the advance of the digital era. It gives increased involvement in sports clubs and perhaps, new followers. But we see at the same time the issue in a larger perspective. It’s about what habits we create for today’s children – that is, tomorrow’s adults. Early positive experiences of exercise and sports are of great importance for the individual’s tendency to be physically active later in life. Therefore, children’s and adolescents’ exercise habits affect not only their current state of health but also their future health.

Aging healthily with sports

The speed of aging progress essentially depends on three factors: the genetic component, lifestyle and psychological factors. As we age, we see a reduction in the functionality of many systems, including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. A decline in physical capacity and, in particular, in bone density and muscle tissue, is therefore inevitable.

Regular physical activity with light strength training can partially resolve or significantly delay the loss of muscle mass and strength, even if it began in old age. On the contrary, a sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity can contribute, together with other risk factors, to the development of various degenerative diseases such as, for example, osteoporosis.

The complete mobilization of all the joints and the strengthening of the muscles through regular physical activity activates numerous biological mechanisms that interact with organs and systems. Specifically, the benefits of constant physical exercise on the health of the elderly incorporate psychological well-being (lower risk of depression and anxiety) and higher cognitive performance (more memory and attention span).

No matter the age of your family members, everyone will benefit from a little bit of exercise. Even as little as 30 minutes every day of functional or dedicated movement will set you in a better mood and make you face the day with way more energy. A sound mind in a sound body!