URBANA, Ill. Is sleep one of your most important family values? A new University of Illinois study suggests that it should be, reporting that more parental sleep is related to more child sleep, which is related to decreased child obesity.
"Parents should make being well rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won't get a good night's sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping," said Barbara H. Fiese, director of the U of I's Family Resiliency Center and Pampered Chef Endowed Chair.
And the effects of sleeplessness go beyond just being tired the next day. Studies show that moms, dads, and their children are likely to gain weight as they lose sleep, she said.
Fiese suggests limiting your children's exposure to TV and other electronic devices to two hours a day and turning them off a half-hour before bedtime (needless to say, children should not have televisions in their bedrooms); spending some time in a calming, predictable routine, such as giving the child a bath or reading together; and making sure preschoolers are in bed in time to get the recommended 10 hours of sleep a night.
Then adults should follow a calming routine themselves. "We're learning more and more about how important it is to unplug for a half-hour or so before we go to bed. At a certain time, turn off your electronic deviceseven e-booksand engage in whatever soothing ritual helps you to relax enough to sleep," she said.
Although the mechanism hasn't yet been identified, Fiese said that restorative sleep is thought to help regulate our metabolism. Her recent study showed that sleep is a protective factor in lowering the incidence of obesity in parents and being overweight in preschool children.
In the study, socioeconomic characteristics were assessed in relation to protective routines and prevalence of being obese or
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences