Good Night & Sleep Tight

Ivelina  —  August 5, 2018

We all know how important sleep is, but too few of us get the high-quality sleep we need. Children live busy, energetic lives, regardless of their age. Their rapidly growing minds and bodies require a sufficient dose of sleep in order to develop and function properly.

 

The benefits of good sleep are endless. Unfortunately, studies have indicated that 7 out of every 10 children don’t get enough sleep, either in quality of rest or sufficient duration. A lack of sleep can lead to temper tantrums, concentration, and behavioral problems, and hinder the ability for future moments of rest. A child who is well rested can actually fall asleep easier than one who is overtired or exhausted.

 

Benefits of Healthy Rest:

  1. Physical Health:

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and rejuvenate. From repairing tissue, boosting muscle mass, synthesizing proteins, releasing growth hormones and maintaining a strong immune system sleep is an important function in physical growth and development. Also, sleep-deprived children are much more prone to common colds and the flu. Another benefit to sleeping well is weight management. Young children who see less than 10 hours sleep a night are 3x more likely to be overweight than children who achieve 12 or more hours of rest.

  1. Mental Health:

Just as with parents, sometimes if you’re tired, you’re prone to crankiness and moodiness. The same applies to your children. A lack of sleep negatively affects the way emotions regulate in the brain, increasing levels of stress, amplified anxiety, and irritation or aggression. While sleep won’t eliminate stressors altogether, it increases our readiness to cope with them.

While we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories. This has a profound impact on helping your children remember the important things they learn. In contrast, losing sleep makes it more likely for children to lose focus or make silly mistakes. Sleep deprivation impairs problem-solving skills when the mind is not able to function optimally.

Ways to ensure your child gets the best night’s sleep:

  1. Watch What We Eat

The wrong combination of bedtime snacks can hinder all of the other good work you’ve done in getting your child to bed with ease. A diet dictates how energetic and active we are. Be mindful of snacks with sugar and caffeine, two hyperactive ingredients not conducive to sleep. Here are some great bedtime snack ideas for children.

  1. Limit Stimuli Before Bed

Interactive stimulants are detrimental to sleep because it keeps the brain active at exactly the wrong moment. Things like a bedroom full of toys, tablets, and other appealing distractions will steal from the time we need to slumber. Try to turn off all technology an hour before bedtime. Consider replacing nightly habits with better ones, listening to an audiobook or soothing music, taking a warm bath, bedside yoga, or possibly playing a quiet game like a puzzle.

  1. Strengthen a Familiar Routine

Regular sleep times help maintain our body clock and overall circadian rhythm. Keeping to a consistent bedtime will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. During the school holidays when routines are often relaxed, the biggest challenge will present itself. Sticking to a somewhat consistent nightly routine can make a big difference and strengthen healthy habits.

  1. Understand How Much Sleep is Required by Age

Your child’s sleeping needs naturally decrease each year into adulthood where sleep duration eventually plateaus (to approximately 8 hrs). Newborns, infants, and toddlers obviously need the most sleep even in comparison to a school-age child and teenagers. Understanding how the sleep needs of your child will change allows for far more mindful decisions to be made at home, preserving bedtime as an important family time moment.

Check out this guide below to reference sleep needs by age.

 

 

Pro Tip: Allergies are common culprits of acute or even seasonal sleep deprivation in both children and adults. If you or someone in your family struggles with this burden. Consider purchasing a supportive pillow that is easy to wash. Common allergens collect in our pillows overtime and onset the uncontrollable sneezing while we should be sleeping.

 

When wanting to make drastic lifestyle changes such as becoming vegan, one of the first questions asked is, “but is it affordable”?  There is a great misconception that being vegan, especially in a family context, is extremely expensive when the exact opposite is true. It isn’t cheap living in Ireland according to The Irish Times, making it a necessity to save wherever you can. Going vegan can cut down on your monthly grocery bill significantly, especially considering that you will pay an average of €9.00 for chicken per kg compared to €1.14 for potatoes.  If you have wanted to change to a vegan lifestyle but fear the costs attached to it, don’t despair. There are a number of easy-to-follow guidelines, such as the following, that will enable you and your family to effortlessly conform to a vegan lifestyle on a budget.

Buy in bulk

You might be surprised at how much money you can save by buying in bulk. Most grocery stores and fresh produce markets have a bulk section where you can pick up larger quantities of your favorite ingredients at reduced prices. There are a number of dried, packaged ingredients such as pasta, beans, lentils and even flour that you can readily buy in bulk and simply pop unopened into your fridge to preserve. If your local market has a special on any fruit or vegetables that you and your family use on a regular basis you should definitely buy in bulk as most can be processed to an extent to preserve their lifespan. Most vegetables can either be chopped and frozen directly or precooked and then frozen for later use. When buying in bulk it is important to take note of expiry dates as you do not want your bulk purchases to spoil before you can use them.

 

Grow your own vegetables and make your own food

It may seem overly ambitious to grow your own food but nothing prevents you from planting an herb garden or filling a few planters with cabbage, kale and cherry tomatoes. You can start as small as you want and, should you wish, continuously expand until you are almost entirely self-sufficient. Buying prepackaged food is always going to end up costing more than making it yourself if you have a large family to feed. You have the added advantage of knowing exactly what is in your food when you make it yourself as opposed to always having to be somewhat cautious when eating at a restaurant or buying takeout. Even if you do want to treat yourself with takeout, you are bound to pay a lot less for a vegan option. A typical takeaway dinner kebab will cost you €2.76 while a vegan takeaway falafel wrap will only set you back €2.48.

Compare prices

Always be on the lookout for advertised specials and compare the prices of a number of grocery stores, even though it may be time-consuming.  Small, specialty locally-owned stores are often cheaper than big chain stores and may also offer a discount to regular customers. Join the social media pages of your local stores as they often post unique specials that aren’t advertised in the printed media.  The best time to hunt for bargains is mid-month when stores try to up their sales so be sure to keep your eye out for any flyers or newspaper adverts promoting in-store specials.

Going vegan may turn out to be the best gift you can bestow upon your family in terms of their health and well-being. You will not only find yourself feeling invigorated and less prone to illness but will also be astonished at how much money you are saving once you cut animal products out of your diet.

With summer’s warmer weather, we use different consumer products to help us beat the heat and enjoy outdoor activities. But despite the assumption of product safety, new and existing studies point out that common ingredients still used today may not be the best for our health.

Before you take advantage of everything summer has to offer, take stock of the products you’re using and make a conscious effort to avoid these three ingredients.

  • Check your bathroom/bedroom for talc-based products.

Baby powder, deodorants, and other hygiene products become necessities when you’re outside in hot weather. Even though they’re great options for wicking away sweat and keeping you dry, be sure to double-check the ingredients. Johnson & Johnson is enmeshed in thousands of legal claims after its talc-based Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Powder was linked to ovarian cancer. 22 of 36 studies undertaken over the past five decades have shown a possible link between the mineral and cancer, yet the FDA does not currently regulate talcum powder in our cosmetic products.   

 

If you check your health and beauty aids and discover that talc is a listed ingredient, don’t panic. Consider switching instead to talc-free options that are now being offered by many brands.

  • Check your medications for phthalates.

Phthalates can be found in products such as food containers, shower curtains, and children’s toys. Used to make plastic more flexible, the chemical is also present in medications as polymer barriers to prevent early disintegration of the drug in our stomachs. Antidepressants, aspirin, and even dietary supplements may use phthalates during production.

 

Studies link phthalate exposure to birth defects in children, cancer, and hormone disruption, which in turn has sparked legislative efforts to ban the inclusion of the chemical in children’s toys. However, there is no such ban in place for phthalates in medications. Regulatory information only recommends, rather than enforces, that phthalates be avoided as inactive ingredients.

 

If you’re taking medications that are “enteric coated” or “time release,” ask your pharmacist if the drug contains phthalates. They may be able to suggest a phthalate-free option. For over-the-counter drugs, check the label for any listing of “phthalates” as an inactive ingredient.

  • Check your sunscreen for oxybenzone.

Did you know that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined? By the age of 70, one out of five Americans will be diagnosed, so preventative efforts are now more important than ever. Wearing sunscreen should be a major part of your daily routine all year round. Before you lather up, check to see if oxybenzone is listed as an ingredient.

 

Oxybenzone is an organic compound used as an active ingredient in sunscreens because of its effectiveness at blocking harmful UV rays. Although it’s still used in a majority of non-mineral sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group highlights the ingredient as the most worrisome. Studies associate oxybenzone exposure to infertility, allergic reactions, and newborn developmental concerns.

 

Hawaii recently passed legislation banning the use of oxybenzone in sunscreens because of its role in destroying coral reefs. According to a 2015 study, just one drop of sunscreen is enough to damage the corals.

 

Although you shouldn’t skip sunscreen altogether, check its ingredients for oxybenzone and make the switch to a safer alternative.