ParticipACTION now assesses sleep on the spectrum of kid’s health

For the first time in our annual assessment of kids’ physical activity, the ParticipACTION Report Card included sleep as an indicator of health.  This was due in part to recent research that highlighted the important relationship between physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep.

The thing is, if you really think about it, the importance of sleep seems obvious. I’m sure you can remember a time when you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, so you skipped your gym routine only to find yourself restless when you tried to sleep the following night. It’s a normal but vicious cycle!

The same is true for your child or teen. And for kids, we’re just starting to truly understand how important a good night’s sleep is for proper health and development.

We’ve learned that,

  • Too little sleep can cause hyperactivity, impulsiveness and a short attention span
  • Children who sleep less are more likely to struggle with verbal creativity, problem solving, and generally perform lower on IQ tests
  • Short sleepers are more likely to struggle with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension
  • Chronic sleep loss can even contribute to higher rates of depression

Sounds scary, eh? But you might still be asking, is it really a problem?

Well,

  • Children now sleep about 30-60 minutes less per night than previous generations
  • 31% of school-aged children, and 26% of adolescents in Canada are sleep-deprived – this is similar to rates of overweight and obese children
  • 33% of 5-13 year olds, and 45% of 14-17 year olds report that they have trouble going or staying asleep at least some of the time

Convinced yet? The good news is that new 24-Hour Movement Guidelines have been developed and we now have a better understanding of how each behaviour impacts the other. Getting more sleep can help a child to be more active, and being more active can help children sleep better. 

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Here’s how you can help your child sit less, move more, and get well rested:

  • Keep TVs and electronics out of the bedroom – there is a ton of research to show that there are literally no benefits of having TVs and electronics close by, especially when they can lure kids away from hitting the hay
  • Make sure your child is getting some heart pumping activity throughout the day – more physical activity is associated with increased health benefits and we know that an active kid is a tired kid.
  • Get your kids outside – simply being outside means your child (and you!) are more likely to get in some extra activity. Bonus is that this also means the TV, and cookie jar are further away as well.
  • Consistency is key – encourage consistent bed and wake times, even on weekends. Structured time can help kids settle into a routine and allow them to be better prepared to fall asleep and wake up naturally.
  • Be a good role model – your youngsters will be looking to you for examples so make sure they’re good ones! Walk the walk by getting enough sleep and integrating physical activity into your own life.