Kids These Days, Can’t Even Sleep Right

We recently wrote about the ParticipACTION 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Long story short, as Canadians we didn’t score a good grade.

In fact, it was so bad that ParticipACTION felt the need to develop and introduce the world’s first 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. And this most recent 24-hour incarnation of the guidelines has an interesting new component: sleep.

Ever heard of a ‘sleepidemic’? Yeah, me neither. Sounds kind of tiresome actually.

But in fact, there is a growing body of research pointing to sleep deprivation as a significant contributor to the poor physical activity trends among Canadian youth. For example, did you know that…

  • 25-30% of children and teens are sleep deprived
  • more than 1/3 of youth have a difficult time falling or staying asleep
  • 40% of teens don’t get enough sleep and/or struggle to stay awake during the day
  • average daily sleep for children has dropped by 60-minutes in recent decades

It’s making me yawn now just thinking about it.

We need to be careful though, because this lack of consistent sleep can have serious effects on a child’s development. Kids may struggle in the classroom (due to a short attention span, troubles problem solving, and even lower IQ testing) in addition to suffering from measurable health effects (such as increased risks of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension).

To make matters worse, the effects are cyclic. A Toronto study showed that children who slept the least were also the least active.

ParticipACTION 24-Hour Movement GuidelinesBut have no fear!  The ParticipACTION 24-Hour Movement Guidelines are here!

First let me preface by saying these guidelines apply to children (ages 5-11) and youth (ages 12-17), and are a daily guide – meaning they apply to each and every day.  This means all of the days.  Like, every single day.

And so, a healthy 24-hours should include:

  1. MODERATE-VIGOROUS EXERCISE (approx. 60-minutes of varied aerobic activities, such as a sport or free-play)
  2. LIGHT EXERCISE (approx. 2-hours of structured or unstructured light activity, such as biking to school or walking the dog)
  3. SLEEP (an uninterrupted and consistent sleep schedule of 9-11 hours for children, and 8-10 hours for teenagers)
  4. SEDENTARY ACTIVITY (less than 2-hours per day of sitting down, and spread out if possible)

Eager for more details? Explore or download the Movement Guidelines and other ParticipACTION resources!

What are your thoughts on ParticipACTION’s guidelines on sleep and movement? Do they earn your approval? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANick Boon is the Coordinator of Youth Development for Canada Basketball. Nick holds degrees in Physical Education & Health and Sport Business Management, and is a long-time and overly-obsessed basketball coach, player, and fan.

Photo: / Alejandro Macias

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