The academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their health, and is one way to predict adult health outcomes.
Why Electronics Stimulate Children (and adults) Before Bed
Ninety percent of people in the U.S. admit to using an electronic device during the hour before heading to bed, and children often use electronic media to help them relax at night. If your child is among these nighttime technology-users, you may not realize the extent to which this can make it harder to settle down to sleep. But it can. The truth is, using electronic devices before bedtime can be physically and mentally stimulating in ways that can adversely affect sleep.
Here’s what happens: Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock, suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before bed delays the onset of sleep, reduces the total amount of deep sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.
Diet and Academic Performance
Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved learning skills (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.
Adequate hydration also improves mental function in children and adolescents, which is important for learning. Water….not juices, energy drinks or sweet drinks aid in hydration.
Before and After School Physical Activity
Encouraging students to be physically active before and after school helps them identify activities they enjoy and might engage in long term. Physical activity before and after school also will help them achieve some of the 60 minutes of physical activity they need each day.
Physical activity before and after school could include walking and biking, physical activity clubs, school or community sports programs. Even informal play on school grounds or physical activity in school-based before and aftercare programs will contribute to the child’s well-being.
All of these healthy practices can improve students’ health, their grades and test scores.