Sleep is one of the pillars of well-being. Studies found that sleep-deprived adults are more susceptible to illness by reducing anticancer-fighting immune cells, a.k.a. natural killer cells. These fighter cells are known to attack not just cancer cells but also disease-causing microbes. The same is true for sleep-deprived children.
Preschoolers typically require 11 to 13 hours of sleep per day, including nap times2. At this age, they are at risk for sleep deprivation because all the activities they're expected to do can make it difficult for them to nap. If napping is impossible for your child's schedule, try setting an earlier bedtime instead.
Include exercise in your child's routine
Researchers have found that exercise increases virus killers in adults. Preschoolers can also benefit from regular activity3.
Start by being a good role model. Exercise with them instead of telling them to go outside and play on their own. Some activities that you can do with your preschooler include brisk walking, jogging, and biking.
Guard against germs
Guarding against germs is a great way to reduce stress on your child's immune system. So, make sure that they are in the habit of washing their hands. Pay close attention to their hygiene after playing outside, before and after each meal, using the bathroom, handling pets, and blowing their nose.
Give them the right nutrition
A nutritious diet is another pillar of well-being. Ensuring that your child eats immunity-boosting phytonutrients, like those found in green beans, strawberries, carrots, and oranges, help increase their body's production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Five servings of fruits and vegetables are ideal, and a serving for preschoolers is equivalent to about one cup.
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- 1. Jiang N, et al. (2014). Febrile illness and pro-inflammatory cytokines are associated with lower neurodevelopment scores in Bangladeshi infants living in poverty. BMC pediatrics, 14, 50.
- 2. Sleep Deprivation - https://www.parents.com/baby/new-parent/sleep-deprivation/
- 3. Exercise Benefits - https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html
- 4. What Happens to Your Body and Brain if You Don’t Get Sleep - https://longislandneurocaretherapy.com/news/happens-body-brain-dont-get-sleep/
- 5. 10 Fun Exercise Ideas for Kids https://www.parents.com/fun/sports/exercise/10-ways-to-exercise-as-a-family/
- 6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14302-sleep-in-toddlers--preschoolers