You are here: Home / HPRC Blog

Filed under: Families

Start your children’s good sleep habits early

Sleep is an essential part of post-exercise recovery, and good sleep habits begin in childhood. A recent Canadian report on bringing up children as athletes provides valuable input for children at various ages.

Do you know how much sleep you and your loved ones are getting—and supposed to be getting?  Keep in mind the recommendations differ by age group. According to a report from Canadian Sport for Life on optimal sleep for athletic performance at all life stages:

  • Children under the age of six need 13–16 hours of sleep daily, including longer nighttime sleep and fewer daytime naps as they get older.
  • As girls reach the ages of 6–8 and boys reach 6–9, their sleep needs drop to 10–11 hours of sleep a night.
  • Girls 8–11 and boys 9–12 need 9 ½ to 10 hours of sleep a night.
  • Girls 11–15 and boys 12–16 need around nine hours of sleep a night.
  • In addition to their nightly sleep, girls 6-15 and boys 6-16 need a 30-minute-plus nap between 2–4 pm every day.

For young children, meals—particularly breakfast—are an important part of establishing a reliable sleep routine, and as children age they should start developing a 15–30 minute routine before bedtime to get ready physically for sleep. This is also a great opportunity for some quality time between parents and children that you can all look forward to each night.

To make this goal easier, be sure your kids avoid computers and TVs (anything with electronic stimulation) for one to two hours before bedtime. Allow an hour to unwind before bed—try soothing music, reading, and dim lighting.

As children become teenagers, make sure they don’t start incurring a sleep debt by sleeping less than needed. Encourage them to keep regular sleep hours, get early morning light exposure, and carefully gauge their caffeine consumption close to bedtime.

The report mentioned above suggests using a sleep log (and provides a sample log) to get an idea of your and your child’s sleep patterns. Remember that the warrior athletes of tomorrow need to develop good sleep habits today!

Thankful for you?

A little appreciation can go a long way in keeping the relationship with your significant other at its best, especially when deployment means you are apart for a time.

Do you show your loved one appreciation? Gratitude is an essential element in happy relationships. Couples who feel appreciated by their significant others in turn are more appreciative back to the other person. Also, when shown appreciation, people tend to be more responsive to their significant other’s needs. In short, gratitude is contagious! Try it. When you next talk to your significant other, find something to be appreciative about and see if it has any positive ripple effects. This can also help maintain intimacy when you are apart from your loved one due to deployment or TDY.

For more ideas to enhance your relationship, check out the Performance Booster on Couples Communication and Relationship Enhancement section of the HPRC’s site.

Strength training for children and teens

Resistance training has become popular among children and teens. When performed in a safe, structured environment, this type of exercise can be very beneficial for improving their health and athletic performance.

At some point or another, your child or teen might pick up those dumbbells you have lying around the house. They’ve seen you lift weights as part of your regular exercise routine and decided they want to get stronger too. But you might wonder if strength training is safe for your kids.

Lifting the size weights you use might be too much for kids and teens, but in general strength training (also referred to as resistance training) can be a safe and healthy way to improve muscular fitness for children and teens, starting as early as seven or eight years old, when their coordination skills have developed enough. The goal should be improving muscular fitness while having fun and learning effective training methods.

As a parent you need to make sure your kids are supervised and receiving age-appropriate and skilled instructions in order to reduce the risk of injury. With proper technique and safe practices, strength training is not dangerous for growing bodies. However, light weights, exercise bands, or your child’s own body weight should be used to build his or her strength. Currently, there are no specific guidelines for exactly how much lifting they should do. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) one to three sets of six to 15 repetitions, two to three times per week is considered reasonable.

Resistance training is not the same as bodybuilding, weightlifting, or powerlifting, which are associated with competition, high intensity, and maximum weights. The American Academy of Pediatrics and ACSM are opposed to children using these methods or the use of "one-rep-max" (a method sometimes used to assess strength) due to the increased risk for injury.

While a medical examination is not mandatory, it is recommended for children who want to begin a strength-training program. And remember that strength training is something you can do with your children. Family fitness is a great way to keep you and your child healthy and active while you spend quality time together.

RSS Feed