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Accident prone? Get some sleep!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
When it comes to reducing your risk for accidents and enhancing your performance, sleep is one tool that has comprehensive benefits!

Did you know that missing a night of sleep can produce performance results similar to those of being legally drunk? Even losing just a few hours of sleep can result in accidents and poor physical and mental performance. Sleepiness can inhibit balance, coordination, concentration, and response time—creating “the perfect storm” for accidents.

Make sure your sleep is optimal by turning off your electronics and other distractions well before bedtime, exercising during the day, avoiding caffeine late in the day, and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. If you are in a situation where sleep is hard to come by, try to squeeze in naps when possible. For more information and ideas, check out HPRC’s article on sleep and visit HPRC’s Sleep Optimization resources.

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!

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