August 22, 2016

Good sleep is important for everyone, but especially youngsters.  In the weeks leading up to that first day back in September it is important to prepare kids by starting their regular sleep routine.  We all know summer can throw things off for everyone!

While the jury is still out on exactly how many hours your child needs, and science does appreciate differences between families and individual needs, studies do show that children under 10 need at least 10 hours of sleep per night.  How do you calculate this for your child?  Determine what time they need to get up in the morning for school and go backward 10 hours.  Find a time that works for your family around that time you calculated.  For example, if little 7 year old Joey needs to be up at 7am to be at school on time, Joey needs to be in bed before 9pm.  For more information click here.  This is also supported by the new Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth which encourages children to “sweat, step, sleep and sit”.

For optimal health benefits, children and youth (aged 5–17 years) should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day. A healthy 24 hours includes:

  • Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;

Consistent wake and bed times are important at any age.  Not getting enough good sleep can result in increased risk of emotional struggles, physical problems and obesity.  Interestingly, “trying” to sleep can also impact sleeping.  Spending time in bed not sleeping keeps us awake whether it is because you linger in bed after the alarm goes off, or go to bed early to watch TV.  Helping your kids be better sleepers by building good habits early on can help.  Encourage them to do any activities before they get into bed.  No TV watching in bed and if they are up earlier than required in the morning they can play in their rooms – but not in their beds.

For more information about helping your kids get better sleep go to the Canadian Paediatric Society website.