August 2014 cover

Nature Notebook

Green Time for Better Sleep Time

Little girl sleeping 

Many U.S. parents are surprised to learn that their children suffer from persistent sleep deprivation – as much as two hours per day. There are numerous reasons: busy schedules, addiction to television and electronic games and lack of knowledge about the amount needed. The reality is American children are spending an average of 7 hour and 38 minutes per day staring at electronic media entertainment. Building some outdoor time into your child’s schedule will help them get a better night’s sleep and receive the associated physical, emotional and cognitive benefits.


The Three Ways Outdoor Time Improves Your Child’s Sleep

Boy and Girl playing video games

1. Sleep-inducing natural light

Regular doses of bright natural light help children stay more alert during the day, elevate their moods and make it easier to sleep at night. Exposure to outdoor light in the morning actually helps set their body clock for a better and earlier night’s sleep.

2. The soothing dimensions of more time in nature

Nature has a way of comforting children. It can take away stress and be a haven for kids who are otherwise feeling the pressures of school, family, and social demands Research has found that children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) get significant relief from their symptoms and are able to concentrate better if they spend some time outdoors.

3. Outdoor exercise is better for children than indoors

Exercise can release soothing endorphins into the blood stream and can help with the production of melatonin. Outdoor play encourages activities such as climbing, jumping, running and tumbling that promote muscle fitness and flexibility. Research shows that moderate to vigorous physical activity in child care settings increased from 1% indoors to as much as 11% outdoors. When outdoor play was child led, the amount of time further increased to 17%.


Recommended Sleep Guidelines

Sleep Guidelines Chart

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