Buzzed kids – who thought this was a good idea?
Where are your kids getting their energy from these days? Street hockey? Baseball at the park? Just as digital calisthenics have replaced fresh air sports, energy drinks are finding their way into our kids’ hands at an alarming rate.
In 1999, more than a decade after video games overtook outdoor sports, 73% of kids and teens named soda as their primary buzz-me-up source. Another decade later and kids have switched from soda to energy drinks. What’s most alarming about this trend is the amount of caffeine packed into energy drinks – some have four times the caffeine content as soda.
Now don’t get us wrong – we’re not promoting soda as the after-school beverage of choice – and we’d still rather see them outside than playing video games. We believe the best way to jazz up an afternoon is with a good night’s sleep. But if energy drinks are the new go-to beverage, interrupted sleep patterns, obesity and hypertension are just a few of the risks they’ll face as they age.
The big lie of energy drinks
Kids turn to energy drinks for the same reason we guzzle coffee in the morning – more energy, faster. Trouble is, the caffeine doesn’t deliver energy as much as it jolts the body, kind of like a defibrillator. You might get a rush for a few minutes but it’s a short term fix and hard on the body.
“Children most at risk appear to be those who regularly consume the increasingly popular caffeine-laden energy drinks or gulp down a relatively large amount of the liquid in a short span, according ScienceDaily. “Caffeine levels in drinks such as Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar range upwards to 242 milligrams per serving (most are sold in a double serving). By comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams.”
So what’s a parent to do if your child is opting for an energy drink rather than a good night’s sleep? Start by setting some family sleep rules – and follow them yourself. From there, try these ideas on for size:
1. Get outside – with your kids
A work week is 40 hours (60 if you’re an over-achiever), which leaves 128 hours for sleep, chores and everything else you do. If you can’t fit an hour of physical activity in each day, something in your schedule is hogging your valuable time. Why is exercise important to sleep and overall health? Think of sleep as the fuel that allows you to do more during the day. If you’re not moving enough, you’re not going to be tired enough to sleep. If you’re not tired enough to sleep, you won’t feel motivated to exercise. See the problem?
Once you figure out the time thing, you’ll be enjoying more outside time with your kids – and teaching them the importance of healthy family time.
2. Eat better – together
To stay healthy we need a daily intake of dozens of different vitamins and minerals. Since you can’t get all that healthy goodness from one source, variety is important.
“Besides appreciation for the value of food and the work that goes into preparing it, the dinner table can be the perfect environment where kids learn how to conduct conversations, observe good manners, serve others, listen, solve conflicts and compromise,” reports the Huffington Post.
3. Drink more water – instead of anything else
Think of water as the original natural energy drink – we need it as much as we need sleep and good nutrition. Dehydration can make us feel listless but if we reach for manufactured energy drinks, we’ll be even more dehydrated. If you don’t think your child is drinking enough, gently tug at the skin on his/her hand and watch how long it takes for the skin to resume a smooth appearance. If it takes longer than a couple of seconds, it’s time to hydrate.
Ready to make sleep a family priority? We’d love to hear what you’ll change or what you’re already doing that’s working well.