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How much sleep do I need?

December 13, 2020 2:15PM Kids News

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Healthy Harold has some great advice for Kids News readers. media_cameraHealthy Harold has some great advice for Kids News readers.

ask healthy harold

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Hello again Kids News readers.

It’s Harold, the healthy giraffe from Life Education. I’m back with some more information and answers to your questions about staying safe, happy and healthy.

But first, let’s take a look at something that none of us can do without: sleep

Adorable little girl sleeps. media_cameraSleeping lets your body and brain rest and recover so you’re ready for another busy day.


Most children in primary school need about 9-11 hours of sleep a night. So, if you have to get up at 7am to get ready for school, you should be getting to bed by 9pm at the latest to make sure you get enough sleep.

It can be hard to get to bed sometimes — there’s so much fun stuff to do — but sleep is important. While you are sleeping your brain is storing away your memories and the things you learned at school, it’s repairing your body (like if you cut your knee or hurt a muscle) and it is also a time when your body does lots of growing!

So, to help you get to sleep, think about turning off screens (TV and computers), turning the lights down so it’s not too bright, reading a book or having some quite time with the people you love. Then, off to bed to grow, rest and have lots of energy for the next day.

Boy reading on his bed media_cameraReading a book and having some quiet time is a good way to prepare to go to sleep.

If you have a question for Healthy Harold, you can ask it by clickingHERE.Please don’t include names and personal information about yourself or others. It’s important we respect everyone’s privacy.

Now, to answer some of the great questions Kids News readers have sent me in the past week:

Q. How do you ensure that you eat enough of all the kinds of food?Great question! We need a variety of foods each day to give us energy and help us grow. Healthy food makes healthy brains and bodies; having breakfast before school will help you concentrate, having some fruit as a snack will give you the energy you need until lunch time; lunch will keep you going through playtime and the afternoon at school. Eating mainly fruits and vegetables, wholemeal breads, pasta and rice, protein foods for long lasting energy and some dairy foods with calcium for bone and teeth health are all important. That’s why they are called “everyday foods”.

Lollies, soft drinks, cakes, chocolate, chips and biscuits are “sometimes foods” — and by sometimes we mean only in small amounts and only a few times a week.

Happy two cute children playing with fruits and vegetables . media_cameraEating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good way to enjoy a healthy diet.

Q. What are some really healthy fruit and vegetables?
They are all amazing! Some people say broccoli is the best vegetable — and I’ve got to say, I love it — but my favourite vegetable is the carrot! I love it cooked, I like it in a salad and even in soups. I also try and have lots of variety. My friends and I often try to “eat a rainbow”! That doesn’t mean we really eat a rainbow, but we try and eat lots of different coloured fruit and vegetables every day.

Q. Is meat healthy?
Meats are high in protein and protein gives us long lasting, slow release, sustained energy. Protein is important as it keeps us feeling energetic and “fills us up” so we don’t feel hungry too soon.

Meat includes fish and seafoods, poultry (chicken, duck and turkey) and lean meats like beef and lamb. Meat is only one source of protein — it can also be found in eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, nuts, legumes (beans) and soy products.

Little multiethnic girls drink mineral water at home media_cameraWater is the best drink for our bodies.

Q. Are soft drinks that say no sugar healthy?
Hmmm, this is a great question … and also a bit tricky! Soft drinks with no sugar contain artificial sweeteners, and it seems that the sweeteners are still linked to tooth decay. There are also some scientists who think that the sugar free fizzy drinks don’t fill us up the same way and somehow make a person feel like eating more than they need for their energy levels.

In the end, we all know what the best drink is for our bodies — water!

If we want to stay healthy and keep our teeth strong we need to avoid all fizzy drinks — sugary and sugar free. It’s OK to have them sometimes but certainly not every day.

Q. Hi Harold, I was wondering why is it important that we have a healthy diet and what does sugar do to our bodies?
Hi back at you. Sugar is really important for our bodies and is in lots of foods we eat, like fruit. If we eat healthy foods, we get the sugar we need from natural sources. That’s the simple message.

The tricky thing is that lots of foods we enjoy contain a lot of added sugars. So, if we eat lots of lollies, cakes, chocolate and drink fizzy drinks we can get too much sugar. This can do damage to our teeth, can give us a quick burst of energy that then crashes down fast and makes us feel tired. It can also make a very special organ in our body called the pancreas work very hard and, in some cases, it just gets “worn out”.

So, enjoy your sugar naturally in delicious fruits like berries and watermelon but avoid processed foods like lollies and cakes that have much more sugar then our body needs.

Healthy Harold on diets

Q. What kind of toothpaste is best?
Any kind is fine, just as long as you are brushing your teeth every morning and every night before you go to bed. Brush gently in small circles and make sure you get to all of the teeth — back, sides and front. Ask an adult or the dentist to show you how to use dental floss. It really helps to get little pieces of food out from in between your teeth.

Also, here is a great tip from my dentist: spit out the toothpaste after you brush but don’t rinse your mouth or have a drink of water straight away. Leaving a little bit of the toothpaste on your teeth helps to protect them.

Children putting toothpaste on toothbrush in bathroom at camera media_cameraWe need to brush our teeth morning and night.

Q. How does COVID-19 spread? Won’t the sun make it spread even more in summer?
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses spread from person to person through close contact. If someone sneezes or coughs then little droplets of the virus can enter the air — that’s why we are trying to keep a distance between people when we out and why you will see people wearing a mask if they are on a bus or anywhere were people need to be close to each other. The virus also spreads when someone touches one of the droplets and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. That’s why we are all washing our hands really carefully and using hand sanitiser.

The sun doesn’t make COVID-19 spread — so enjoy your summer and just keep doing what you have been doing already — oh, and slip, slop, slap too, of course!

media_cameraHealthy Harold loves riding his scooter to stay active and healthy.

Is running up hills good for you?
Actually, any physical activity that makes your heart beat faster and gets your muscles moving is good for you. Running is great, but hey, don’t start out running up hills. That’s hard work! You need to build up to that sort of thing. Playing, moving, swimming or riding a bike or scooter are all great ways of staying physically active and healthy. Everyone has different levels of ability and fitness, so find an activity that makes you feel good and give it a go.

Click HERE to ask Healthy Harold a question. Please don’t include names and personal information about yourself or others. It’s important we respect everyone’s privacy.

Extra Reading in ask healthy harold