We all recognize the physical symptoms of lack of sleep: frequent yawning, trouble waking up in the morning and difficulty staying awake during the day. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, he/she might not be getting the quality and amount of sleep needed.
In the long-term, lack of sleep can lead to:
- An increase in stress, which can contribute to anxiety and depression
- Low energy levels
- General moodiness
- Reduced immune system function (ie: getting sick more frequently)
Getting the proper amount of sleep is therefore extremely important, allowing your mind and body to rest and recover from the day’s activities.
So, how much sleep is optimal for your child?
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that children between the ages of 5-10 should be getting 10-12 hours of sleep on average.
How to get the recommended hours of sleep:
To ensure your child is getting the amount of sleep he/she needs, set a bedtime and establish a bedtime routine. This consistency can help your child physically and mentally unwind and ultimately, fall asleep faster and into a better sleep. The routine can include taking a bath, reading a book or listening to calm music.
Things that should be avoided before bedtime:
- Playing with electronics and watching TV can stimulate the brain, thus making it harder to fall asleep.
- Stimulants (such as drinks containing caffeine) should be avoided.
- Engaging in exercise right before bed can also make it harder to fall asleep.
Note that if your child is repeatedly having trouble falling or staying asleep, it might be time to consult a family doctor.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology suggests children age 5-11 get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. During the school year, this can be difficult to achieve as your child may spend a large portion of the day commuting, sitting at school and completing homework at home. However, with a little effort and creativity, it can be easy to integrate activity into your child’s week.
Physical activity does not have to be playing a sport, there are other ways to get exercise. Even light activity can provide health benefits. Check out our ideas to get your family moving!
Sources and for more information:
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines & Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) – Note: you may need to copy and paste this link into your browser to view it properly. http://www.csep.ca/cmfiles/guidelines/csep_guidelines_handbook.pdf
- Children and physical activity (Government of Canada) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
Between social media, television, cell phones, and tablets, electronic media have become powerful forces in our children’s lives today. According to a national study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2009, 8-10 year olds spend on average just under 8 hours per day exposed to media – a number which increases to almost 12 hours daily in the 11-14 year old age group. Despite this staggering statistic, this same study found that up to two thirds of children and teenagers have no rules regarding their media use.
It is therefore unsurprising that one of the most common questions our team hears from parents is: “how much time should my child spend in front of a screen?” To answer this question, we have summarized the recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Try to keep total screen time under 2 hours per day
- Avoid screen exposure for children under the age of 2 years
- Do not allow TV and internet-connected devices in your child’s room
- Keep an eye on what media your child is using (social media, websites, etc)
- Watch movies and shows with your child (this can be a good opportunity to talk about lessons and values we can learn from the media!)
- Establish and enforce a reasonable plan for media use including curfews for mealtimes and bedtimes
Although modern media has been criticized for its sexually explicit imagery, negative portrayal of body image, and the ubiquity of violence, it is important to remember that the media can have positive effects, too. The media is a powerful tool both educationally and socially, and has helped spread prosocial messages and increase access to information- keep this in mind when coming up with reasonable restrictions on screen time!
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