Many U.S. parents are surprised to learn that their children suffer from persistent sleep deprivation – as much as two hours per day. While there is no single reason for the cause, their lack of rest may be due to 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.
3 Ways Outdoor Time Improves Your Child’s Sleep
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.
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.
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%.
There are countless benefits to getting active with your children outdoors, from getting in better shape to strengthening family bonds. So start a new weekly tradition and encourage your family to get outside and play together.
What outdoor activities do you and your family enjoy most?
Kevin Coyle wrote this post for Together Counts on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation.