Category: Food and Health

The True Cost of Not Flossing
The True Cost of Not Flossing

“How young is too young to start flossing?”

“How long can I go without flossing?”

“How long has it been since I last flossed?”

“How can I trust my child to floss regularly without them hacking into their gums?”

The truth is, whether your child is under a year or in their preteens, dental health and questions about oral care can often sit on the back burner. These are questions you may not find yourself asking because physical health and mental growth can seem so much more pressing.

What most of us do not realize is that our dental health actually has a significant impact on our overall health. A truly healthy body does not coexist with a mouth that is decayed and infected.

So what’s the big deal about flossing?

Regardless of age, flossing is incredibly important because it cleans areas of your teeth a traditional toothbrush does not. The crevices between our teeth can store the most bacteria out of anywhere else in our mouth and can cause gum sensitivity and infection. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry says that flossing is the most important weapon against plaque.

Did you know that if you never floss, you’re only cleaning two thirds of your teeth? Imagine going months or even years only cleaning certain parts of your body. Everybody would really start to notice after a while!

You (or your kids) may retort: “I don’t have time to floss every single day.” That’s okay! While once daily is of course a good idea, dentists everywhere would agree that flossing as little as twice a week is better than not doing it at all.

Toddlers especially do not need to worry about flossing until their teeth begin to touch. When this happens, teach them how to hold the floss (between both hands, wrapped around their pointer and middle finger), and go in between the teeth gently. Once there, be sure to go over the edges of the teeth where it arches into the gums. You may have to do this until your child has developed the strength in their hands to do it on their own.

– To prevent bleeding, be sure to floss regularly and not cram floss through the teeth quickly, especially if it tends to get stuck. If waxed floss seems too thick, instead use dental tape. It is smoother and thinner.

– Unwaxed floss is rougher and will squeak when the tooth is cleaned. It may be more challenging for kids.

– Pre-measured, disposable flossers are great for a once-over but do not work well for people with bridgework.  

– Waterpicks are not an alternative to flossing as they simply loosen debris (which is why they are excellent for individuals with braces, dentures, and those recovering from wisdom teeth removal). 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a condition that develops when gums do not have proper exposure to a proper cleaning. If you or your child flosses rarely or not at all, gums will become sensitive, bleed, and can even develop infections. While gingivitis is fairly common and can be cured very easily (flossing more), if action is not taken, eventually it can spiral into periodontitis, or gum disease; which is the root of many heart and lung conditions that can actually be fatal. It may take years of neglect to get to this point, it is still something to be aware of — and it says a LOT of how important cleaning in those hard-to-reach places can actually be!

Receive a Pound of Fruit for FREE!
Receive a Pound of Fruit for FREE!

Come one, come all! Beck’s Harvest is teaming up with The Kidds Place, Dentistry for Children to improve smiles!

Did you know that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease? When kids learn to choose healthy sweet treats (fruits!) over soda and candy, it gives their mouth a fighting chance. Kids who take good care of their mouth and bodies should be rewarded – these are life-long skills that will ultimately improve their development into adults.

That’s why Beck’s Harvest from Green Bluff is offering a pound of fruit at NO charge to every child that is cavity-free at their next appointment! To schedule your child’s next cleaning, call us at 509-252-4746. Don’t delay!

How Much Fruit and Veggies Do Kids Really Need?
How Much Fruit and Veggies Do Kids Really Need?

Fruits and vegetables some of the most important, yet overlooked food groups in an everyday diet. Both help a child grow up strong and both reduce the chances of disease and illness significantly. They can also strengthen a child’s teeth as well, and many fruits can be a healthy alternative to cavity-causing sweets.

Sadly, most of us know we are not consistently eating the recommended amount of these food groups – that goes for both children and adults. An Australian study found the deficit to be as high as 56-80% in kids.

The commonality is often due to lack of finances (fresh fruit and vegetables can get pricey, depending on where you shop), and their shelf-life is not as long as most other tempting snack food that can be loaded with sugar, carbohydrates, and preservatives. Both of these aspects can be difficult especially with bigger families.

Another hurdle is the possibility of placing this many servings in front of your children in the first place. Many children tend to be picky eaters, or at least timid about certain foods. Instead of fighting them, television commercials and other marketing ploys are constantly bombarding us to buy the latest fruit juice or packaged veggie snacks, claiming it is the best thing for our children.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these products (and sometimes they can seem a quick and easy solution), the reality is that nothing is ever going to beat out or replace the healthy benefits of good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables that are not manipulated to taste or seem better. Sometimes, persisting for your child to finish his or her last few celery sticks can make all the difference, and can bring you steps closer to implementing more and more nutrients in their diet.

So what are the recommended servings? Variables include not just age, but gender and how much physical activity each child is getting. Younger children actually don’t need nearly as many as growing preteens.

Little girl choosing tomatoes in a food store or a supermarket

Up until age three, toddlers only need 0.5-1 serving of fruit, and up to just 2.5 servings of veggies. Between ages four to eight, the number goes up to 1.5-4.5 servings of fruits and vegetables, respectively. After age nine, it is 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of veggies.

If your child is an athlete and is more active, it is wisest to be on the higher end of these averages because they are burning more calories. Statistically, because boys tend to have a slightly faster metabolism than girls, they sometimes require more.

Here are some tips for you and your children to consume more servings of fresh  fruit and vegetables each day:

  • If your child is a juice addict, replace at least one meal a day with water instead. This way, instead of drinking juice they can still get the fruit fix via a handful of blueberries or apple slices.
  • Produce prices getting you down? Save your pennies for the weekly or bi-weekly farmer’s market in your town. Sometimes you can get more for your buck and negotiate a bargain with the seller. It’s also usually fresher and better for you.
  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit in sight, either on the countertop or kitchen table.
  • Fruit dehydrators are an amazing investment. Making your own fruit leather is not only yummy, it can help save over-ripe fruit from going bad and is cheaper than buying fruit snacks.
  • In the summertime, cool off by blending fresh fruit and freezing it in a mold as a popsicle. Add raw honey if extra sweetness is desired.
  • Have a container of diced fruit in the refrigerator as a go-to snack.
  • Buy a ‘kid-friendly’ paring knife (usually has dull serrated edges and will only cut food, not fingers) and have your child chop veggies for dinner or lunch at least once a week. Not only can it help them develop an interest in cooking, but they are more likely to be more enthusiastic about eating a meal they helped prepare.
  • If you’re at the grocery store and feel like your cart might not have enough fruits and veggies, take a bag of chips or an item that is nonessential and replace it with fruit instead. Think about it – yes, a carton of raspberries can sometimes cost up to 4 dollars. But so can a box of soda cans. These little exchanges can make all the difference.


Source: Healthy Kids NSW

Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation
Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation

Oh, to be a child in the summertime! It can be sometimes the most fun and carefree time of the year. The hours stretch out into days of leisure playing outside, inside playing games, or visiting friends. No teachers, no homework, no kid responsibilities – save maybe a few chores!

This can affect children a number of ways. Some enjoy it, but others can require more mental stimulation and become bored out of their minds. Gender, age, personality, and region can all play as variables into how a sudden loss of “structure” for three months can manifest.

Nowadays, many children turn to screens. Some may go over to friends’ houses more frequently; or maybe your house will be the one that’s constantly hosting play dates. Either way, lack of structure can be fun and more freeing, but it can also cause kids to slack in taking care of themselves.

When children are in school, they are typically eating at least one balanced meal a day, eating at specific times to fit around school, and going to bed and waking up around the same times. This routine can become so ingrained in their systems that remembering to brush teeth before bed or floss in the morning becomes second nature.

But in the summer time – especially being at friend’s houses, staying up later, and eating at home for most meals of the day, many of these habits easily fly out the window.

CBS News commented on the differences of habits during this time of year, and tested 6,400 children grades 1-12 and found this:

“Kids watched an average of 20 more minutes of television per day over the summer than during the school year and consumed about three more ounces of sugary drinks. Overall, exercise levels remained about the same throughout the year, with barely five more minutes a day of activity during vacation, though high school students were significantly more active in the summer. However, they still didn’t meet standard government recommendations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children and teens should get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.”
Gaming kids
Ultimately, none of these statistics are innately life-threatening! However, we recognize parents’ frustrations with their children’s reactions to little to no structure. One parent comments:

“At some point, the kids always whine that there’s nothing to do, and honestly, at some point I can’t think of anything more,” she says. “There’s only so many times we can go to the pool or the Y for classes. I’m used to them being at school for six, seven hours a day now — and using that time to do my own work. So when summer comes, there’s suddenly many more hours to fill.”

It’s also worth noting that kids spend significantly less time outside these days. Although it depends on the community you live in, many parents do not feel comfortable with letting their children roam free unsupervised even in “safe” neighborhoods.

“Back in my day, we would just go outside all day and play in the neighborhood from morning to dinnertime,” she says. “We’d play sports, games, occasionally get a ride to the community pool or water park. Go to a park, or just hang out at someone’s house, watching TV or playing Nintendo.”

More couch time can mean more snacking, and unhealthy snacking (especially sweets!) can lead to cavities.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re one of those parents counting down the days until September.


1. Plan Ahead

Obviously don’t feel like you have to go super crazy – but if it is within your time and resources, plan day trips to take your children to explore maybe parts of town or surrounding areas they’ve never seen. Try going to a different park or visiting a relative that lives a little ways outside town that they don’t always see. Simply making plans in advance – even at the most base-level – forces the family to organize other tasks and down time around these events. Even just having one thing scheduled for the day can bring a little bit of structure back.
Three girls playing in park while holding hands
2. Try to Keep Bedtime Regular

We get it – kids stay up later and sleep in when they have no school. It makes perfect sense! This doesn’t have to be chaotic, though. If their bedtime is traditionally 8pm but they like to stay up late, make it 10 instead and enforce the evening routine around it. This means that kids are still brushing their teeth, changing into pj’s, etc, around a specific time, but they aren’t feeling forced to conform to their school sleep schedule. Maintaining the bedtime habits can also save you the trouble of having to re-establish them entirely come Fall.

3. Recognize that Down-Time Is Important

Rest is so crucial for brain development, rejuvenation, and even creativity. While it may seem like defeat when the television is on more frequently, these restful and mindless practices can actually be healthy and beneficial to a growing mind – in moderation, of course. It’s when it becomes too much that it is detrimental. After an hour or so, have your children take a break from screens. The truth is that even if your calendar is empty, limiting screen-time can force your children to come up with ideas of how to spend their time all by themselves. Boredom can be destructive when there are no other options, but when options are open it forces a child to make their own choices of how to spend their time, which is very important! For some ideas on cheap and easy crafts, check out our latest article: http://thekiddsplace.com/five-simple-cheap-kid-friendly-crafts-to-make-this-summer/

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-unhealthy-behavior-diet-exercise-tv-summer/

http://2machines.com/188407/

Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer
Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer

Being a kid in the summer time can be so fun and carefree! Days at the beach, family vacations, and BBQs, oh my!

No school, usually no extra-curricular activities, and unless your children are older than 15, probably no job responsibilities either.

Summer can be bittersweet for parents; it can be seen as a time of year filled with opportunity, projects, and activities, but also frustration on those down-days because kids of not being in school. It can therefore be easy for the kids to just kick back and do nothing. Or nothing enriching, anyway. 

You then decide (at least with the younger ones) to come up with ideas to keep them occupied – but at the same time, fighting the urge to not just place them in front of screens or assigning a list of chores so you can maybe get a little peace!

Don’t get us wrong; kids growing up learning how to do chores is definitely important, and can really be refined during the summer months. But what are some fun ways to make the days and weeks go by faster? What are some fun things to do as a family that don’t cost a fortune (or involve more screens)?

We’ve assembled a small list of ideas to get the ball rolling. Summer can be fun and cheap, too! It can also bring the family closer together on the days where everyone otherwise would be off doing their own thing.

(*Please note all crafts are taken from various sources and their images belong to the authors)

 DSC_0948

1. Hot Car Crayons

(Image and article via Come Together Kids)

Depending on where you live, there are just some days where it can seem WAY too hot to play outside! When that happens, here is a fun activity where using the heat can work to your advantage!

All you need is Crayola crayons, a silicone mold, a cookie sheet, and a car sitting out in the sun! Click to read more.

2. Make Homemade Ice Cream

(Image and article via Entertain Kids On A Dime) 20140520-222524-80724805

Fun and easy! Maybe you’ve attempted this before, but it’s only a few ingredients and everyone in the family can participate. You will need two large freezer bags, sugar, vanilla, half and half, ice, and able hands. Click to read more.

 

Sandpaper-Printed-Tshirt-cindy-hopper-alphamom3. Sandpaper Shirts

(Image and article via Alpha Mom)

So fun; you can even recycle old shirts you have laying around the house! This one also involves crayons, too. All you need after that is sandpaper and an iron. Click to read more.

 

4. Kool-Aid Play-Dough

(via Rachel Talbott)
(image via Kraft Recipes)Kool-Aid-Play-Dough-11117

Most people would have most of the ingredients used to make this non-toxic and even edible play-dough! All you need is flour, salt water, olive oil, and Kool-aid. Great for young kids to play with; more fun for older kids to make! Click to watch (6:06).

Water Bottle Tornado

(via SpaceBound)
(image via Steve Spangler Science)
tornado_tube_02
All you need is two empty 2-liter bottles – and if you can find it, a tornado tube. The coolest part is that you can get a little creative with this; instead of using just water for the tornado, you can have your child add food coloring or glitter! Click to watch (2:50).

Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?
Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?

Child obesity is an expanding epidemic. Less than a year ago, the American Heart Association reported that one in three children and teens in the United States are obese. While these statistics can be attributed to a number of different things, many causes of obesity can also directly correlate with dental health as well.

Of course, diet is the primary factor of weight gain, weight control, and overall health. Today in 2017, our understanding of nutrition is better than it ever has been. More and more, individuals are educating themselves about the molecular structure of food and how it affects different areas of our body.

When you eat better, you feel better. When one desires being healthy over looking thin, it can have exponentially better and longer-lasting results; both mentally and physically. Our children are no different. In fact, children need to consume certain fatty foods as a part of their development; and rarely should a focus for a child be to “lose weight” unless there is a significant obesity problem. Most importantly, the eating habits they establish today will set the tone for their adult eating lifestyle as well.

However, it’s not just WHAT you eat; but how much, and when. Recent studies have been uncovering the issues behind nighttime eating, and found that it not only disrupts our eating cycle and cortisol levels (a hormone that regulates metabolism, digestion, and hunger) but can also be directly correlated to cavities and tooth decay.

In order to be clinically considered a nocturnal eater, it means you have to consume a fourth or more of your daily calories after the evening meal. For many, this looks like a large dessert or late dinner after having eating something earlier in the evening (like a small supper), plus, waking up at night to have another snack. A fourth may seem like a lot, but if these foods are higher in calories, it’s not very difficult to do. The reason why this can lead to weight gain is simple: when your body is sleeping, it burns significantly fewer calories than when awake. If you sleep on a fourth of your food instead of using it for energy, it is stored as fat. 

Raiding the fridge and the pantry late at night are actually more common than you think, and can be alarmingly rampant in teenagers, especially those who stay up late regularly playing video games or other activities that can be accompanied by “vegging out” and snacking. If these habits continue past adolescence, the data doesn’t look good. Not only does nighttime snacking disrupt the biological clock, but it can also affect oral health as well.  A Danish study took a collective of adults ages 30-60 that identified as midnight snackers and tested them twice over the course of six years. What they found was that those who ate late at night lost more teeth, despite medical or genetic background – even those who smoked did not alter this factor. Man gamer in headset playing computer game and eating pizza in dark room

What the research suggested was that because we produce less saliva at night, midnight snackers have the disadvantage of not being able to rinse away bits of food in their mouth very well. This can be especially true if one goes to bed immediately after eating and does not take the time to brush their teeth. Chips, candy, and other carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, and after sitting in a dry mouth for several hours can turn to plaque. Plaque can turn to decay if not properly removed.

If your child struggles with hunger late at night, instead of opting for a snack high in carbs and sugar, offer a handful of baby carrots or an apple with peanut butter. If the need to snack persists, try eating dinner a little later or having a healthy snack an hour or so after dinner.  Working together, you both can break the cycle and ease bad habits into healthier ones!

Sources:
https://experiencelife.com/article/the-hidden-causes-of-late-night-snacking/
http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-midnight-snacking-20160704-snap-story.html
http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/article/ada-06-consumer-news-night-eating-tooth-loss-link
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp#.WSh1tCMrKlM

Keeping Kids Hydrated this Summer
Keeping Kids Hydrated this Summer

It’s springtime!

As the weather warms up and the weeks pass, your kids might be counting down the days until summer vacation with jittery anticipation.

Like other seasons, summer especially can require extra accommodations when leaving the house – sunscreen, hats to protect faces and heads – but one of the most important is carrying water in order to stay hydrated.

Kids’ bodies have a higher metabolism and do not cool off as efficiently as adults do. Not only that, children are typically caught up in activities or playing to even realize they’re thirsty until they’re already significantly dehydrated. This is why it’s important to get them in the habit of drinking fluids consistently.

Studies show that proper hydration can even begin with a morning meal or the night before if you are anticipating a hectic day ahead. A large glass of water with dinner or breakfast can be effective, but it’s also a commonality that kids prefer sweet and flavoured beverages over water, and drink up to 90 percent more when it is offered to them. If this seems to be the case with your child, stick with Gatorade and other drinks high in electrolytes – juices or soda can actually lead to a faster dehydration.

Infants, children, and pets can be the most susceptible to heat stroke, a condition where the body temperature rises to a dangerous level and can cause death or lasting damage if not treated. Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for:

– Confusion/disorientation

– Nausea

– Vomiting

If your child exudes one or more of these obvious symptoms, seek shade or an air-conditioned room immediately. Once they are out of the sun and begin to rehydrate, contact a medical professional right away and they will probably require you to take your child to a nearby clinic or urgent care to be examined.

Severe hypothermia (heat-related illness), can be defined as a body temperature at 104 (40 celsius) or higher, which can be lethal. Less critical issues can be similar conditions like heat exhaustion or heat cramps; and while these are not considered a medical emergency, they can spiral into sun stroke if not treated.
Cute boy eating watermelon on beach
Remember, all of this can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. The AAP suggests 5 ounces of water every twenty minutes (just a couple sips) for an 88 pound child and 9 ounces for kids and teenagers up to 123 pounds. If this seems like a lot of water breaks, try offering a popsicle to your kid instead. Diet can also play a factor – fruits and vegetables are loaded with not only vitamins and minerals, but contain water as well. Eating foods high in water content can reduce the need for frequent (five times an hour) water breaks, although this does not mean drinking water throughout the day should cease being a habit!

 

(Sources: http://www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/keeping-kids-hydrated/
http://www.medicinenet.com/heat_stroke/article.htm)
Mouthguard Maintenance for Little Athletes
Mouthguard Maintenance for Little Athletes

Let’s be real here, parents. Kids can be really hard on their teeth.

If the dentist knows your child is in sports (particularly contact sports) there is a high chance they have recommended a mouth guard for your child to use during practices and games.

We know, we know – mouth guards can be pricey, especially if it is one that is custom-molded. But they can be well worth the investment when you consider how much future damage the device could be preventing. Its purpose is to minimize and force that could be exerted on to the teeth, jaw, or gums, either by clenching or by an outside source. Accidents happen, especially in combat sports! Getting hit in the face by a ball or being struck by another athlete by mistake is sometimes just a part of the experience. 

Taking steps to ensure your child’s mouth is safe is just as important as knee pads or a helmet. But just the use of a mouthguard is not enough – it is making sure your child is properly maintaining it – not just so it can be used long-term, but also so that it doesn’t become a breeding grounds for bacteria.

When a mouth guard becomes worn, the edges can begin to deteriorate. The rigidity and roughness can cause small abrasions in the gums and lead to infections. The reason why this is different than nicking yourself with a toothbrush is that yeasts and molds could potentially be living on the device depending on how frequently it is cleaned and where it is stored.

The General Journal Dentistry ran some tests on young sport’s players mouth guards. On one belonging to a junior high football player, the same bacterium found in an infected leg wound was discovered. Similarly, a hockey player’s guard got so contaminated with mold (five different kinds), that his exercise-induced asthma was triggered and worsened to where his inhaler was not capable of keeping his symptoms at bay while competing.

Here are some tips to help your child ensure that he or she gets the most out of a clean, and safe mouthguard:

1. Rinse before and after use with warm water or mouthwash

2. Brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste

3. From time to time (depending on how frequent the use) wash with soap and water

4. Make sure the container the mouthguard is stored in is sanitary and has some holes for air circulation. If the moisture inside is air-tight it can cause mold to grow.

5. To ensure the mouthguard does not get warped and keeps its shape, do NOT boil it in hot water to clean it or leave it out in the hot sun!

Talk to your child before investing in a mouthguard and share with them not only the benefits of wearing one, but the importance of taking care of it. Together, you can make sure your child is getting the most use out of it and protecting their beautiful smile!

Source: www. colgate.com

Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?
Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?

If you have ever seen a young child sucking their thumb, there is a chance it began around the time they were weaned off of a pacifier. When newborns begin breastfeeding, the act of sucking is associated with being calmed down and receiving nutrients. The motion actually releases endorphins in the brain, which alone can be addictive. This is why babies and toddlers use binkies to self-soothe, especially if they are anxious or have trouble sleeping.

Therefore sometimes for comfort, children will suck their thumbs after their pacifier has been taken away, even if it’s just in their sleep (often they will have been aware of not doing it in public and so they only resort to it only at night).

rihanna22

Fact: Rihanna, the famous pop artist, still sucked her thumb at age 23

The issue is that sometimes these habits can take several years to break – it is not unheard of that a thumb-sucker can continue up into their teens! This can cause multiple jaw issues later in life, as the teeth will rarely line up. Many require oral surgery; and not just for cosmetic reasons. This is because the thumb rests on the lower teeth forcing them in along with the sucking motion, and causes the upper teeth to grow forward because of the thumb being sucked to the roof of the mouth. Therefore, it creates a huge gap between the upper and the lower; often referred to as an “open bite”. If the addiction is even more severe, it can cause even skeletal damage.

How Do You Stop It?

1. Whenever you notice your child has not sucked their thumb in a while, be sure to point it out to them and praise them for it.

2. The next time you are at the dentist, have them explain to your child the medical reasons they should not suck their thumb and what could happen if they continue to.

3. There is a bitter liquid medication that can be prescribed by a pediatrician that is used to coat your child’s thumb so that it is gross to the taste.

4. If none of the above work, in a worse case scenario, secure socks over your child’s hands at night so they will not even be able to suck their thumb subconsciously.

Thumb-sucking is a very normal and comforting mechanism for kids, but if not stopped early can easily carry on into elementary age, and, with very few, into teens and adulthood. Most kids automatically give it up before age 4 or 5, and by this time it should have no permanent affect on adult teeth. If your child is older and still struggles with not sucking, ask your doctor or pediatric dentist how much it might be affecting their mouth development and what measures can be taken for them to stop.

The Science Behind Why Naps are So Important
The Science Behind Why Naps are So Important

Toddlers needing sleep is a no-brainer. A newborn sleeps anywhere from 16-17 hours a day, and as they grow older still require over 10 hours. This is a necessary amount for their mental, emotional, as well as physical growth. However, studies show that naps aren’t just for little kids. People of all ages can greatly benefit from this practice.

Did you know?

In much of the world, particularly Latin America, they have what is called “siesta”, which is loosely defined in Spanish as an afternoon power nap. It is commonplace in many of these countries, even places like Portugal and Spain, to take a short rest in the middle of the day as a societal practice. Businesses close and then re-open to prepare for a second rush. Some people say it is due the intense heat that occurs at midday around this time; although it could be that coupled with the consumption of the most filling meal of the day at lunchtime. Sounds nice, right?

Latinos are not the only people group that have adapted this. In Japan, they are beginning to implement what are called “sleep salons” where individuals can take a power nap if they need to. Japanese schools – even high schools – are also beginning to integrate a 15 minute afternoon nap, mandatory for all students to increase alertness. In China, their midday rest is so ingrained in their culture it is seen as a Constitutional right. Did you hear that? Chinese adults all over the country view taking a nap in the middle of the day as important as paid leave, or health insurance.

Sadly in United States, napping is often viewed as indulgence and even laziness. The only city known to incorporate a napping policy has been seen in a few companies in New York city, but that is it. Yet – we are considered one of the most fast-paced, stressed out, and sleep-deprived countries. Putting it in perspective, it’s rather shocking.

Here’s what the Sleep Foundation has to say about the effect naps can have on the adult body:

  • Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
  • Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
  • Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
  • Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.

loving african mother napping with baby boy

How would one get a restful sleep in the constant chaos of American hustle and bustle? Many recommend short naps, anywhere from 15-20 minutes. The reason for this brevity is because after a certain length of time our bodies can slip into a deeper sleep, making it more difficult to wake up and can even leave you feeling more tired than you were before. This is why children, who require more sleep than adults, nap over an hour at a time because it allows the child to cycle through this deeper sleep before they wake up.

Have trouble falling asleep? You are arguably one of many thousands of people who claim they are unable to have a midday catnap! However, science would argue and say that every single individual is capable of napping, it is just up to the person to determine what would distract them from doing so and the mental barriers that would need to be removed in order to gradually enter into sleep.

Experts suggest that you do not nap any closer than three hours to your bedtime, and try to wait at least a few hours after you wake up. It is recommended to cover your eyes with a mask or make it so there is little to no light getting into the room you are in. Also, eliminate sound the best you can and discover what relaxes you. Some use essential oils or calming music or sounds such as ocean waves. Set your alarm for 25 minutes or so, depending on how long it typically takes you to fall asleep, so that you will not exceed 20 minutes.

If you are a stay-at-home mommy (or daddy!) with a toddler who only requires about one nap a day, the best advice often claimed is to “sleep when they do!” Afternoon naps can be a source of bonding between you and your child, and can leave you both feeling rejuvenated.