Get Healthy with the Sleep Diet

Get Healthy with the Sleep Diet

With computers, smart phones, and 1,000-station HDTVs, our sleep-crisis might be at an all-time high -- creating a multitude of health hazards, including obesity and depression. But try our sleep diet, and you and your family can sleep easy by having a better chance of avoiding these problems.

According to the CDC, insufficient sleep is epidemic and it has a particularly severe impact on kids. Nationwide about 70% of school-age kids get eight or less hours of sleep a night (they need several hours more!) and most preschoolers are getting less than the 11-13 hours a night they need. The result: Kids pack on pounds! Researchers think this sleep deprived fat-bump happens because insufficient sleep causes hormone shifts that crank up insulin production -- a surefire pound-packer. Sleeplessness can also stimulate sugar cravings for refined, carb-loaded foods. Your kids end up with poor school performance, not to mention type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea, and low self-esteem.

The solution? Mom and Dad! When parents create an orderly sleep pattern starting with themselves, their kids get enough sleep too and everyone in the family is far less likely to be overweight or obese. So try the sleep diet: Create a bedtime routine that includes: a calming bath; a no-TV-no-computer-no-game zone; reading a book in bed; and lights out at the same time every night. Make yourselves the example and the kids will follow your lead!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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