Technology as a Tool to Encourage Young Adults to Sleep and Eat Healthy
By: Sue K Adams, PhD; Gary Liguori, PhD, FACSM; and Ingrid Lofgren, PhD, MPH
Today, most young adults highly value their access to daily technology; however, the same priority is not always given to healthy eating and sufficient sleep. The question then becomes, “As a practitioner working with young adults, what can I do with this information to help promote better sleep and healthy eating?” First, practitioners can focus an eye toward using behavior therapy and health promotion strategies to help clients change their behaviors. Information from the mobile apps can be used to identify patterns that compromise health, and practitioners can work together with the client to problem solve strategies that will fit into their lifestyles. For example, helping clients to focus on food preparation, scheduled meals, and healthy options when eating at restaurants can guide better nutrition. Likewise, using sleep hygiene strategies such as avoiding technology and blue light an hour before bed, engaging in relaxing activities, and finding ways to manage worry, often result in better sleep. Finally, when working with a population of young adults who often view themselves as invincible, discussing the importance of healthy eating and adequate sleep as a way of enhancing their health today, and in the future, can help motivate change. This may be even more likely when technology is incorporated into the plan, as this is a method of communication young adults are inherently comfortable with. Ultimately, helping people change their behavior begins with knowledge of what they are currently doing, followed by helping to motivate them to make small changes in their everyday lives.
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