You know sleep is important. We hear it all the time. It’s an essential healthy habit. Unfortunately, everyone seems to be falling short on sleep, including kids. With endless opportunities for distractions, sleep may be the last thing on their minds.
It’s time to put the time restriction on the phone, take the TV out of the room, and get into a routine, because sleep is important. Here’s why:
- Growth: The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep for kids age 6-13. Add all the distractions, plus late practice times and games, and early wake-ups for school – most kids are not reaching that. As parents, we know that sleep is super important for growth and development of those little bodies, but sleep is so much more than that.
- Down-Time: Just as you stress the need for down-time for your child (taking a break every once in a while), the body needs that too and we get it in the form of sleep. If the body doesn’t get that downtime, you run the risk of your child not being able to function in school AND in sports. What’s the use of paying all of that money for a sport if they are too tired and can’t pay attention? In addition, kids who are chronically deficient in sleep have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, being short-tempered, and irritable.
- Weight: The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicate that ALL age groups who do not get enough sleep are at a higher risk of becoming overweight. We can’t seem to kick the obesity epidemic plaguing our country. We know it’s a mix of lifestyle factors and sleep is one component.
- Heart Health: The heart needs time to rest. Sleep is the time for blood pressure to decrease and take a rest from the sports practices. Athletic kids have strong hearts, let’s keep them that way.
- Repair and Recovery: Sleep has become such an important topic, that the International Olympic Committee has taken notice. Sleep is vital for your child’s tissues and muscles to repair itself and when that time is cut short, that’s when overuse injuries start to creep up.
- Nutrition: For most kids who are not getting enough sleep, the urge to sleep until the very last minute becomes the norm. This can lead to skipping breakfast or a quick grab out the door. That could spell disaster for training. For kids who practice in the morning, a light meal is appropriate with more breakfast after practice. For those waking up after evening practice or games, the body absolutely needs fuel for the day to get it ready for more after school.
As children get older, it is natural to let them make their own bedtimes. As the parent, however, it is necessary to still monitor their sleep schedules, especially for those in sports. Coaches and teachers should also stress the importance of getting enough sleep for all of the reasons above.
Get those ZZZZZs