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Catherine Holecko

Sleep better, walk safer

By January 14, 2013

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Want to help your child sleep better at night, and get to school safely? Two studies available today from the journal Pediatrics offer insight.

First, sleep: Researchers collected data on 2,000 kids and teens, asking what they did during the last 90 minutes of their day--activities such as eating, preparing for bed, reading, doing homework, watching TV, playing video games, and listening to music. TV was the most common activity, with an average duration of 30 minutes. But kids who watched the most TV were much more likely to fall asleep later. The study suggests that limiting TV in the 90 minutes before bed "may promote earlier sleep onset and ultimately improved sleep duration."

Next, walking to school: This study analyzed the effectiveness of the Safe Routes to School program in New York City. Across the US, SRTS projects work to reduce traffic and air pollution near schools, which makes walking or biking to school safer and more accessible for kids and families. In this case, researchers found that rates of pedestrian injury decreased significantly, especially during school-travel hours. Rates of car accidents and injuries stayed the same in areas without SRTS interventions.

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