We believe that it is essential that children sleep for the recommended hours given their age and that in addition, it should be quality sleep. Clearly defining sleep time and wake up time, taking into account the conditions of the home, will help children get a better sleep.
Numerous studies confirm the relation between lack of sleep and higher weight throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Many obese children sleep less than the amount of hours they need. Along the same lines, between 25% and 30% of the childhood population suffer from sleeping disorders that would be solved by proper habits. Sleeping the necessary amount reduces the possibility of being overweight or obese by 36% (facts from the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red-Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y la Nutrición CIBERobn).
Here at the Gasol Foundation, we work under the assumption that a “healthy life” does not only mean a balanced diet, varied and adequate, it also implies doing physical activity regularly, promoting the well-being of the family unit, and very importantly, developing routines in the home that allow for quality and sufficient sleep. We try to do everything under the guise that healthy habits form parts of the Healthy Galaxy: In the Galaxy we have 4 planets, one for each component (healthy eating, physical activity, sleep, and emotional well-being) and they all interact with each other, each part’s well-being dependent upon the 3 others. The effects of a lack of sleep go beyond being tired the next day.
- If you don’t sleep well, you will eat more food and worse food for you
- If you don’t sleep well, you will do less exercise and spend more time on a screen
- If you don’t sleep well, your sense of humor will worsen and you will be more irritable
How can we ensure that boys, girls, youth, and their families get adequate sleep?
Sleep the necessary amount of hours: An adequate sleep is fundamental for healthy physical, emotional, and social development of children. When we sleep more we do not only rest more, we also have more energy which allows us to enjoy daily activities. In the case of boys and girls, it is proven that those who sleep the necessary amount of sleep have a lower risk of becoming obese. How many hours should people sleep by age group?
Ages 3-5 need 11-13 hours of interrupted sleep
Ages 6-12 need between 10-11 hours of sleep
Ages 12-18 need 9-9.5 hours of sleep
Adults (18+) need 7-9 hours of sleep
Turn off screens 30 minutes before going to bed: Exposure to artificial light provokes the stimulation of the central nervous system. In the brain, these stimulants are associated with being awake and active. It is important to keep in mind that disconnecting at least half an hour before heading to bed. Turning off electronics, screens (including e-books), and doing something else that helps relax and get sleep is key.
Optimal conditions in the home: The amount of light, the temperature, or the noise in the area that one is going to sleep in are key to manage in order to get a good sleep. We should assure ourselves that these three factors are important in guaranteeing that children and the whole family can sleep well.
Familiar routine and rhythm: Boys and girls need certain conditions of their environment to be regulated to establish rhythm and this is especially important when we are discussing sleep. Having a good nightly routine before going to sleep has been shown to significantly improve the sleeping pattern of children and the satisfaction of their parents. Always going to sleep at the same time and following the same routine (brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, turning off the lights, reading a book…) is key for transitioning from the day to sleep and prepares the body for sleep.
Pau and Marc Gasol, through the Gasol Foundation, promote that boys, girls, youth, and their families internalize the importance of good, quality sleep and that they include it in their daily routines in order to guarantee an optimal state of health in their present and their future.