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Sleep: What’s Enough & Why It’s Important

November 6, 2018 by Zainisha Vasanji, Ph.D., CSEP-CEP

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Sleep: What’s Enough & Why It’s Important

Daylight Saving Time officially ended at 2:00 am this past Sunday. Despite gaining an extra hour of sleep, you may not feel more rested. “Falling back” may seem great but that 1-hour change in time can disrupt our sleep, specifically our sleep-wake cycle, for up to a week. During that period, people may wake-up earlier (at pre-change wake-up times), have trouble falling asleep and wake up through the night. Short sleepers (less than 7.5 hours per night) and morning types may have the most trouble adjusting to the autumn time change. Resetting and maintaining our sleep-wake cycle is important as sleep provides numerous health benefits. Before learning what these are, have a look at what a healthy amount of sleep is.

What is a healthy amount of sleep?

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the early years and children and youth (the world’s 1st such guidelines!) recommends amounts of time for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep within a 24-hour period for optimal health benefits. The amounts for sleep are as follows:

Infants (0 to 11 months): 14 to 17 hours for those aged 0 to 3 months and 12 to 16 hours for those aged 4 to 11 months, including naps

Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.

Preschoolers (3 to 4 years): 10 to 13 hours, which may include a nap, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.

Children and Youth (5 to 17 years): Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours per night for those aged 5 to 13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14 to 17 years, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.

24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults (18 to 64 years) and Older Adults (65+ years) do not exist yet but, the National Sleep Foundation recommends sleep amounts of 7 to 9 hours and 7 to 8 hours per night for adults and older adults, respectively.   

Why is a healthy amount of sleep important?

Early years (0 to 4 years): Research shows sleeping for longer versus shorter amounts is related to better body composition (e.g., body mass index and body fat), emotional regulation (e.g., mood and hyperactivity) and growth.

Children and Youth (5 to 17 years): Similar to the early years, longer amounts of sleep are related to better body composition and emotional regulation. Longer sleep amounts are also related to better academic achievement and well-being.

Adults and Older Adults (18+ years): Research shows sleeping less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis is related to health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. Less than 7 hours of sleep per night is also related to impaired immune function and cognitive performance (e.g., memory and problem-solving).

Sleep is usually considered a time of rest yet, numerous biological processes vital to our health and well-being take place during this time. So if you or your family members aren’t getting healthy amounts of sleep each night, let this be your wake-up call to make sleep a priority.  


Resources & Links:

https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/sleep-and-learning-children
https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/good-sleep-habits-10-tips...
https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/blog/kids-parenting/how-to-create-a...

Recommended Resources:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
https://css-scs.ca/resources/brochures

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