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Good eating, sleeping habits linked to better grades

U.S. public education is undergoing pressure to better

U.S. public education is undergoing pressure to better prepare students for college, trades and careers. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A good night's sleep. Nutritious eating habits. We know what we should be doing to improve our health. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these healthy habits are also linked to kids' academic success.

"When kids go to school without eating breakfast, their cognitive function can be affected," said Krista Casazza, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a recent news release. "Your brain can't work if you're not consuming enough calories."

Back-to-school breakfast ideas include fruits, proteins and whole grains. Casazza suggested avoiding sugary cereals because the sugar high can cause a crash later on.

“A balanced breakfast will fuel the body for a long period and help sustain their attention level through lunch, when they need to eat well again,” she said.

After-school snack options include yogurt, fruits and veggies, baked chips (in moderation) and water.

According to Kristin Avis, associate professor in the department of Pediatrics Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at UAB, once homework and dinner are done, sleep needs to be the priority.

Lack of sleep can lead to problems with attention and memory in the classroom, and affect impulse control and mood regulation, which may lead to anxiety and even depression, said Avis in a news release.

How much sleep is needed? It depends on your children's ages. Kids ages 6 to 12 should get nine hours of sleep nightly as should adolescents ages 13 to 18, but typically they average little more than seven hours per night, according to Avis.

Parents should also note that letting kids sleep in late on the weekends may not be a good idea.

“If kids sleep in Saturday, they have a hard time going to bed Saturday night, so they sleep in Sunday and have a hard time going to bed Sunday night,” Avis said. “Monday morning they're tired, and it’s hard to wake up for school. They struggle to get back on a good sleep schedule.”

The key is to have a consistent bedtime seven days a week.

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