Fight off Childhood Obesity With Good Night’s Sleep!

My neighbor wanted to enroll her 12 year old daughter Maira for aerobics classes. Reason? Her daughter was over-weight and she was afraid it might affect the girl's health.

Childhood obesity is a common occurrence in modern times. Spending hours in front of the TV, computer or too much of studies are some of the reasons to blame. As the families become nuclear in nature, both parents are busy working. As a result, the number of hours kids spent on outdoor activities has reduced drastically.

Research studies were conducted on the following reasons for preventing childhood obesity:

  • Limited time spent on watching TV
  • Absence of TV in bedroom
  • Quality family time during meals
  • Ample amount of sleep

Out of these factors, amount of sleep was the only reason that made a difference in the results. It showed that kids who snoozed for more than 10 hours were less obese than kids who did not. Kids who get plenty of sleep consumed 20% less calories than other kids. It also shed light on the fact that if the parents did not sleep adequately, their kids also followed suit. As a family, everyone needs to catch up some good quality sleep to fight obesity. Refer to this report on CTVnews for more.

What calls for good and restful sleep and how to induce it:

In Ayurveda, there are 6 classifications of sleep. They are as follows:

  • Tamobhava Nidra* : This is sleep caused by tamas or laziness
  • Shlesmasamudbhava Nidra : This is sleep that happens due to increase in kapha
  • Manah Shrama Janya Nidra : This is sleep due to mental fatigue
  • Shareera Shrama Janya Nidra : This sleep is induced due to physical tiredness
  • Agantuki Nidra : This is sleep due to outer factors like toxins, accidents etc.
  • Vyadhyanuvartini Nidra : This is sleep caused due to ailing conditions like fever, diabetes, severe diarrhea, alcoholism etc.
  • Ratri Swabhava Nidra : This is sleep induced by the nature of the night (physiological)

Only Ratri Swabhava Nidra is considered normal and preferable. (Nidra*=sleep)

Ayurveda comes in handy to identify your nature with your sleeping pattern:

  • You are a ‘Tamasic’ person if you sleep both in the day and night
  • You are a ‘Rajasic’ person of you either sleep in the day or night
  • You are a ’Sattvic’ person of you sleep very little and only in the night

This also brings us to the million dollar question- What is the best time to snooze?

In Ayurveda, night is divided into four ‘Yaamas’. One Yaama equals 3 hours.

  • 3pm-6pm = first Yaama (3 hours after sunset)
  • 9pm-12am = second Yaama
  • 12am-3am = third Yaama
  • 3am-6am = fourth Yaama

The first and fourth Yaamas are the best hour to study, meditate and pray. The second and third Yaamas are the best hours to get restful sleep.

Proper sleep gives rest to your mind and body. It refreshes, rejuvenates you and gives a happy feeling. Improper sleep implies inadequate, excessive or disturbed sleep. It makes you miserable and causes emaciation, dullness, tiredness as well as short life span.

Now, you might be wondering how to get restful sleep at night. Here are some tips to follow which would help get sound sleep.

  • Wash your feet before sleeping. You can also massage your feet and soles with a cream or warm oil at bedtime to induce good sleep
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothes that allow proper air circulation in the body
  • You can make it a habit to do alternate nostril pranayama, meditation or simply deep breathing before sleeping
  • Make sure there is plenty of air circulation in your bedroom
  • The temperature needs to be ideal and unwanted noises shut out
  • Head can be kept raised a little with a thin pillow
  • Sleep on the left side of your body as it keeps your body cool and aids digestion
  • Take your dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Never sleep on a wet surface or a damp room
  • Sleeping in the open is good in summer but not in winter or rainy season
  • Exposure to direct sunlight while sleeping is not good while sleeping in the moonlight is advised
  • Do not exercise 4-5 hours before bedtime as the adrenalin rush will keep you awake
  • Avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine or sugar in any form ( chocolate, tea, coffee, ice cream etc.) before you hit the bed
  • Avoid blue radiation from the laptop, mobile phone, TV or I pad screens as it does not let you relax enough to go to sleep

Remember that food also plays a crucial role in inducing good quality sleep. Here are some of the foods that help you sleep better:

  • Drinking warm milk with almonds is the sure fire way to get good sleep
  • You can also sip chamomile tea to snooze better
  • Hike your intake of magnesium rich foods like bananas. They elevate serotonin levels that helps you sleep better
  • Whole grains and oatmeal 4 hours before bedtime. Oatmeal enhances blood sugar levels naturally and serotonin levels that induce sleep. Whole grains also make you feel full and increases the presence of tryptophan that help your nerves relax enough to sleep.
  • A tablespoon of honey also helps your brain relax and drift off to sleep
  • Avoid oily and spicy food in dinner as it keeps you restless and heavy

Apart from food, regular physical activities also help induce good sleep at night. Kids can go for aerobics, dance classes, power yoga classes, martial arts lessons, play cricket, basketball, football etc. that expends their stored up energy. They tend to sleep better at night if they are involved in outdoor activities during the day apart from studies.

A healthy mix of right eating habits and schedule works wonders to get good quality of sleep for the entire family. Remember, if you snooze nicely your kids follow the same regimen and tend to fight off obesity.

Do you have better remedies to sleep better? Share them with us!

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