Childhood stress, water intake, sleep and adequate exercise

Happy Monday!  This is the LAST week we will be talking about children (well for now).  I hope you have enjoyed this last month’s topics, and as always if you have any topics or information you’d like to know more about tips are ALWAYS welcome!  The month of April will be all about detoxing.  The different ways to do it, through body work, nutrition and other means.  In light of detoxing month, I will be holding a 30 day Oil Pulling challenge.  If you missed the facebook LIVE about this topic and what it entails, look below to find out the link to replay it.  You will need to let me know ASAP if you are interested, so we can get the oils to you in time.

As we wrap up this month, there are still a few topics we haven’t touched that are extremely important for the nutrition and health of our children.

Stress, Water Intake, Sleep and Exercise.

1. Stress:
Stress is a response to any situation or factor that creates a physical, psychological or emotional change or a combination of all.
Children LEARN how to respond to stress by that they SEE and EXPERIENCE.  (Parent’s influence is huge here)
Stressors that might seem insignificant to an adult coul have an enormous impact on a child.
Stress in children could appear as fear, anxiety, withdraw or excessive worrying about things that feel out of their control.

Examples of potential stressors:

  • Poor diet
  • school
  • competitive sports
  • insufficient basic needs
  • injury
  • neglect
  • divorce
  • inadequate sleep
  • sibling discord
  • lack of free time and play
  • illness
  • bullying
  • household financial stress
  • physical, psychological or emotional abuse
There is an ever increasing pressure for our children to perform more in school at an earlier age with:
  • A LACK of down time
  • A rise in organized competitive sports
  • Family/household pressures
  • Socio-economic stress
  • and more…
So we ask these questions..

How are children handling this?  Are we teaching them the importance of having time to “chill” and relax? What about self-care?  What about stomach upset, behavioral problems, anxiety being signs that they aren’t really handling their own stress?
Are children taking time for the important things?

  • creative play
  • reading
  • hiking; anything that is fun and relaxing for them

Stress in children is handled by the adrenal glands.  Excessive stress can result in common health issues due to the adrenal constantly being used and becoming exhausted.
When the adrenal glands need help here are some signs:

  • digestive issues
  • chronic allergies
  • asthma
  • immune system imbalance
  • weight issues
  • dysglycemia
  • mood and emotional disorders
  • difficulty with sleep
  • fatigue
What do the adrenal glands do?
  • they produce a variety of hormones that help to handle all types of stress- physical, mental or emotional
  • these glands seek to keep your body functionaing in a dynamic balance amidst whatever external or internal changes or challanges you meet
  • they mobilize you for “fight or flight”
  • They control:
    • fluid balance
    • blood sugar balance
    • inflammatory and anti inflammatory response
    • immune system response and strength- lots of studies showed stressful beginnings can cause immune compromise later.
  • They produce steroid hormones appropriate for the child’s age and development
This of course can be helped with proper evaluation and nutritional support.

2. Water Intake:

The human body is about 60% water.  The brain is estimated to be between 70-80% water.  Water is in integral part of our cells, blood, digestion and waste elimination.

Here are some general rules for proper water intake in children:

  • encourage water intake OVER excess juice and milk drinking
  • sports drinks should be limited in their use, as water is the preferred drink (actual really clean water like Kangan water has all the electrolytes you need.  If you use reverse osmosis water, you will need to add back in minerals.  Also, bottled water, is big no no.  Hormone disrupters in the plastic)
  • children should drink 1/2 their body weight in oz.
  • sports activities- drink 4-6 oz of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.  Many people make the mistake of stopping before they are fully hydrated.
Some symptoms of too little water and possible dehydration:
  1. Fatigue
  2. headaches
  3. dry mouth/cracked lips
  4. nausea
  5. constipation
  6. muscle weakness
  7. dizziness/lightheadedness
  8. decrease in concentration
A quick note about sports drinks:
  • sports drinks don’t actually hydrate better than water, but due to the typical sweet-tart combination, there is a tendency to drink more of them.  In that way, they can help children to re-hydrate
  • juice, due to the high fructose content, reduces the rate of water absorption so cells do not hydrate very quickly
  • other drinks have a lot of additives, artificial colors, and/or high amounts of natural and unnatural sugar added to it
  • flavored stevia can be used to help kids transition to drinking more water
  • coconut water is another alternative for hydration when needed rather than sports drinks
  • here is a great alternative
    • 32 ounces fresh spring water
    • 2 tablespoons celtic sea salt or himalyan pink salt
    • juice of 3-4 limes or lemons
    • maple or stevia to sweeten
3.  Sleep:

The general guidelines is 8-10 hours. The younger the child is, the more sleep is recommended.  Pre-school children need as much as 14 hours of sleep including naps.

A swiss study gave these sleep guidelines for children:
1 year and younger= 14-15 hours
1/2 year=14-15
1 1/2 -3= 12-14
3-5 years-11-13
5-12 years= 10-11
13 and up=8.5-9.5 hours

Adequate sleep improves:

  • adrenal strength
  • strong immune system
  • proper growth and development
  • better attention and focus
  • emotional stability
Common symptoms of poor sleep include:
  • depleted adrenal function
  • frequent illnesses
  • sluggish mornings and/or sleepiness throughout the day
  • impaired attention and hyperactivity
  • impaired memory or learning
  • irritability, moodiness and temper tantrums
  • bedtime struggles
  1. allow adequate time for a child to settle down before going to bed
  2. involve the child in a calming routine that works for him/her; warm baths, cup of hot tea, bedtime story, nutritious snack, oil diffuser
  3. encourage sleeping in a dark room or use a nightlight with a timer
  4. play relaxing music, use a cd player or ipod that will shut off when it’s done
  5. try diffusing essential oils like lavender before bedtime to naturally calm them down
  6. keep the routine consistent.
  7. no screens in the room, and no screen time 30 minutes before bed
4. Exercise:
Physical exercise is a bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health.
Promoting fitness in children is one the most IMPORTANT ways to encourage healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.

Regular exercise in thildren can help:

  • feel better about themselves
  • manage stress
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • build strong, health bodies
  • sleep better
  • build social skills
  • develop healthy habits for adulthood
There are differing opinions about the amount of exercise a child needs.  It seems to vary with age.  The recommendations are 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day.  Aerobic activity should make up most of the 60 minutes.

Exercise needs to include:

  1. Endurance- cardiovascular function
  2. strength- strong bones, muscles
  3. flexibility- reduces the risk of injury; stretching should be done after an activity or exercise.
Children should be encouraged to do what they enjoy!  There are benefits to all types of exercise.  It’s also important to not overwhelm children.  They need exercise, but sometimes children that are in multiple sports at the same time, it can be a source of stress.  Try to focus on the most important activities they love one at a time.

Because of electronics, we now have a huge deficit in our children and their functioning.  We could say its nature deficit disorder! A great book on this is Last Child in the Woods.

There are other things to consider with children, we now have rampant toxins everywhere which lead to many mineral deficiencies.  Limit the exposure in the home to only organic no synthetic based products.  These can be huge hormone disruptors in our children , which will be addressed next month!


Did you miss Dr. Hamel’s Video on Oil Pulling, and the Oil Pulling Challenge?  You can replay it here:

The challenge begins April 2!  If you are interested let me know ASAP so I can add you to the group and you can get your oils in time to start!

That is all for now.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy week.


Dr Hamel