Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

It is increasingly recognized that we sleep less nowadays compared to many decades ago. However, only few people know that we can gain weight if we do not get a good night’s sleep. Indeed, research accumulated over the past 10 years is clear and consistent in showing that adults sleeping less than 6 hours a night and school-aged kids sleeping less than 10 hours a night are more at risk of packing on extra kilos than those having adequate sleeping habits. 

But how can we gain weight by not sleeping enough? The main explanation seems to be an increase in food intake, especially an increase in the number of meals or snacks eaten per day. Additionally, people tend to move less as a result of poor sleeping habits due to the obvious feeling of fatigue. 

One of the best strategies to improve your sleep is to be physically active (especially aerobic exercise) everyday. It is well-known that exercise has a positive influence on sleep quality. Furthermore, trying to have a relaxing routine before going to bed is a must.

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Searching For Sleep Solutions

My son is 5 years old and full of energy, which is a great thing. One downside to this, however, is that he has trouble convincing himself to go to sleep at his assigned bedtime. Any parent will tell you that they enjoy their quiet time after the kids have gone to bed, as it provides them with a way to reconnect with their spouse and have the conversations that may not be possible during the hustle and bustle that is play time, activities, PTA, homework, dinner, baths and more play time.

After a month of not staying in his bed, my wife and I decided to try some different methods to help him get to sleep. We tried tiring him out by doing high energy activities in the afternoon, but that usually resulted in him having more energy and us having less. We tried cutting out their nightly TV show before bed, which did little to help. We even tried adding “staying in your room” to the chore chart in a last ditch effort.

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Keeping Active as a Family

Our kids can play with anything, can’t they? A stick, a rock, a hill – these all becomes swords, pets and magical mountains.  They run and twirl and jump and just when it seems like they are running out of energy, they perk up and start all over again.

As adults, we don’t play this way.  We may be able to sit on the floor with little action figures and participate in a game of imagination, but how often are we running and twirling with the kids?

Physical activity is not only something we try to teach our kids, but it’s behaviour we should be emulating as well.  We need to lead by example, and while we may get to the gym or go for a run, our kids don’t necessarily see that.

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Why I Run

Running allows you to handle change in your life…rather than life managing you.

– John Stanton, Founder Running Room

I have always been an active and athletic person. I am not going to tell you a story about how one day I just ‘took up’ running. I’ve always run. It’s just that I was usually chasing things when I was doing it – a basketball, baseball, soccer ball, field hockey ball, Frisbee.

I took up running as a sport in the fall of 2009. My daughter had been unwell for 2 years, basically since infancy. She was suffering from a rare and still undiagnosed (at that time) disease that was robbing her of her childhood and causing serious medical complexity and fragility. We were in and out of CHEO constantly and had accumulated a slew of specialists who were working on treating her and trying to figure out what was going on with her.

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I’m Glad You Asked

“I’m Glad You Asked” is an educational forum for discussion of general mental health questions and issues on CHEO’s website.

As I monitor my 12 year old daughter’s internet usage, I have noticed that she spends a lot of time looking at websites about suicide, self-harm, and body image. She also has several “friends” on Instagram which talk a lot and post pictures about these topics. Is it normal for her to be curious about these things, or is it a signal that something more serious is going on? When I ask her why she looks at those things she insists it is not because she is going to “do anything”. I don’t want to make a big deal of it because I don’t want her to start hiding what she is doing, but it makes me uncomfortable to say the least.

I think it is reasonable for you to be concerned about the nature of the sites she is accessing and I applaud your effort to monitor her Internet use. Although she is claiming “I’m not going to do anything” it would still be important to explore with her what is it about these sites that draws her in. Most youth are drawn to this material because they can identify with it in some way (or, perhaps she is researching on behalf of a friend for whom she has concerns).

It would be important to ask her about whether she has her own concerns about her body image, her mood or thoughts of suicide. If you are observing other changes-drop in academic performance, change of friends, social withdrawal, persistent or intense anger or irritability I would suggest you book an appointment with your family doctor to review these changes.

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Summer Time Fun at Home

Social media is great, really – I am living proof how amazing it can be and how many opportunities can come from meeting new people on social media outlets that I likely would never have on my own away from a computer. But there is also something about social media that can sometimes make you feel badly about yourself as a parent.

Browse your Twitter feed, Facebook timeline, Instagram account at any given time and you’re sure to find a plethora of photos and statuses of people talking about being out and about, travelling and living up the summer life with their children. I find you don’t often see many photos of kids just being kids enjoying the summer at home.

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