Could one hour of exercise help your child fall asleep faster?

A new study from New Zealand shows that kids who did at least one hour of vigorous activity during the day fell asleep much faster than those who didn’t.

The study of 591 7-year-olds found that on average it took kids 26 minutes to fall asleep after bedtime. With that one-hour of activity it only took 6 minutes.

There was a direct correlation between the number of minutes it took kids to fall asleep and the number of minutes of vigorous exercise they had that day.

For every hour a child spent each day being sedentary, it took them 3 minutes longer to get to sleep.

From the ABC News story:

“Up to one in six parents of school-aged children report that their child has difficulty falling asleep, Dr. Ed A. Mitchell of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health by email. The study’s findings, he said, emphasize that physical activity isn’t only important for fitness, heart health, and weight control, but also for good sleep.

” ‘However, the average amount of vigorous activity was only 43 minutes,’ Mitchell said. Also, he added, the children tended to be active in short bursts. ‘Their activity might better be described as stop-go rather than continuous as an adult might do when they exercise.’ “

What do you think: Do your kids have trouble falling asleep? On average how long does it take them to drift off after they go to bed? How much exercise a day do you think they are getting now? Do you think it’s vigorous or off and on? Do you think more exercise would help them fall asleep faster? Do you buy this study?

Editor’s Note: Our longtime community member and my high school friend NEW MOM has had her second baby! It was very early this morning. I’m waiting for permission from her husband to release details on the birth and maybe even a photo! New Mom and baby are doing fine, according to hubby!

29 comments Add your comment

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 24th, 2009
9:19 am

Not to change my own topic but … As a teen growing up in the 80s, this is something I never thought we would see — the first vaccine that seems to prevent AIDS!!!! Amazing!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090924/ap_on_he_me/med_aids_vaccine

New Stepmom

September 24th, 2009
9:24 am

So glad to hear New Mom and baby are doing well!!!!!

I know I sleep better after vigorous exercise and it makes sense for kids too. My stepdaughter sleeps better on days where she has had a soccer or basketball game.

The thing that is so different now than when I was a kid is “organized” activity all of the time. I feel like we got lots of vigorous exercise/activity just by playing all over the neighborhood. That does not seem to happen now. Everything is programmed and sports/exercise have to be scheduled or part of a routine. I think that is a shame.

Becky

September 24th, 2009
9:43 am

Congratulations to New Mom..Glad to know that you and baby are doing fine..

I do think that kids that have some exercise sleep better..Like New Stepmom, I know that when I sxercies some before bed tine, I sleep much better..

new mom

September 24th, 2009
9:44 am

Actually new mom’s husband…everyone is fine and resting this morning. After being quite a few days late she made her arrival in the wee hours of the morning.

Thanks Theresa for mentioning it and letting everyone here know. Hope you guys understand that we won’t be posting a photo. new mom sites her earlier statements about online photos. :)

HB

September 24th, 2009
9:46 am

Congrats, new mom and new dad!!!

JJ

September 24th, 2009
9:55 am

Awwww, congrats New Mom & Family!!!!!

On topic, well DUH….fresh air and good ol’exercise helps EVERYONE sleep better…..I know that myself.

And what ever happened to good old outdoor play? Everything is so structured these days, the kids just don’t play outside anymore. Long gone are the nights of hide and seek, days of kick the can, pick up football games in the street, kick ball, baseball, etc.

In my old neighborhood, another mom and I would get outside and organize a game of kick ball in the street. The kids loved it. You had to drive so slow though that hood becuase of all the kids on bikes, playing tag, or whatever. They were ALWAYS outside playing…….

We were never home as kids. We had the Rocky Moutains for a front yard, and if you didn’t have a bike, well you got left behind. We biked, hiked, caved, etc. In the winter we would sled all day long, building obstical courses to navigate around. We would shovel the driveway and build snow forts, and have huge snow ball fights. We came home to eat, and then we were out the door again…..

As we got older, there were scheduled bus trips to local ski resorts, and Mom would pack us a lunch, and we would board a Greyhound bus with all our friends (NO ADULTS) and head out for a day of skiing.

No wonder I like the outdoors……

Becky

September 24th, 2009
9:56 am

New Mom..(Dad) I’m sure that the new baby is beautiful..And based on what we know about her Mom, I’m sure that both babies are going to be great children..

Michelle

September 24th, 2009
9:58 am

Yeah new mom! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!

Yes, children should have activity. Remeber though that too close to bedtime will likely do just the opposite! I also find that giving them a “routine” at bedtime is also quite helpful!

I start the routine about an hour before I want him to be asleep. We start out with bath/shower, then teeth brushing/jammies. Finally, we end up in bed about 15 minutes before “bedtime.” We use this time to either read, talk, back scratching, etc. Nothing “stimulating” though like TV, video games, etc.

If he has a busy day at school with lots of play time, he definitely sleeps better!!

gpkbsin

September 24th, 2009
10:13 am

at my house, nothing matters. all july, we brought our almost 3 yr old to the pool and he was in there “swimming” for at least an hour. he would come home and eat well but not go to bed early/faster. he’s always had a problem going to bed. it takes us just about 2 hours from start of bathtime to him being out cold. we have to sleep with him to get him to sleep in that 2 hours. if we don’t, it’ll take forever. Also, if he has had a whole lot of activity during the day, he wakes up in middle of the night with leg pain. we still get him out everyday for couple of hours to just sit outside, ride bicycle, kick a ball and whatnot. again, nothing helps putting him to bed early

jct

September 24th, 2009
10:30 am

Congrats to new mom and family.

On topic, did they really need a study to figure this out? It makes perfect sense that you would fall asleep faster. I would also assert that the quality of sleep is probably better.

Becky

September 24th, 2009
10:34 am

Laughing @jct..Of course they needed a study..Heck, they need a study for everything now..

JJ

September 24th, 2009
10:52 am

gpkbsin -Have you tried putting him to bed and walking out and closing the door? To have to lay down with a child for 2 hours, will result in him never being able to sleep alone.

Now is the time to teach him to sleep alone…….good luck.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 24th, 2009
11:01 am

gpkbsin — We used to have to do that with our oldest daughter — She has always, always had a hart time falling asleep — even now. We used to lay down wtih her for hours like you are describing — It didn’t stop until we had the second baby and just didn’t have the time or energy to do it anymore. She finally learned that if she just stayed in her bed we didn’t care how long it took her to fall asleep and that was when the big shows started in her bed. She would do sing alongs, dance alongs, monologues — Now it matter much, much more what time she finally falls asleep because she’s in school — Some kids just have a hard time shutting off their little brains and my daughter is definitely one of those kids — two things that seem to help — I read that putting them in a sleeping bag can help calm them down — Lately she’s been sleeping in her sleeping bag on her bed but somehow being a little for confined helps her calm down and settle — Also jazz is supposed to be good for little brains that won’t shut down — it is supposed to engage them and give them something to concentrate on so they gradually do shut down. This seems to work some nights.
I am actually going to try to make them do more vigorous exercise in the afternoon — they are mentally tired when they get home so they don’t think they want to go and play — they want to veg out but I think I need to take them for a walk or bike ride to get them moving. It would be good for me too.

BRC

September 24th, 2009
11:14 am

gpkbsin – we had the same problem with our oldest. I know it’s hard now, but they will learn to go to sleep by themselves, on their own, through the night, I promise. It just may be on their time frame, not ours. Like Theresa said, sometimes the little brains just won’t turn off, even though the little bodies are exhausted. Some kids need help winding down.

gpkbsin

September 24th, 2009
11:28 am

JJ — I got a lecture from our pediatrician about this. He said the same thing as you.. put him down and close the door. He said that we shouldn’t give him any reaction and not talk to him when we take him back to his room (cause he comes out of his room if we are not there). The problem is that my mother-in-law is staying with us for next 5 months to help us with our 3 month old. While she is there, no disciplining that involves the kid crying can be done. So, we are going to wait till after she leaves.

Theresa – I’ll try Jazz if that helps. the little monster knows how to change CDs on his boombox so don’t know how long the Jazz CD can stay in. We’ve tried leaving him in his room with lights on and telling him that he can do whatever he wants until he wants to go to bed. we lose our patience at 11pm. He is in daycare all day long where they tire him out. One of his soccer coaches saw him at 4pm on a friday and was amazed that he still was soooo active at that time. That kid just doesn’t stop. We’ve tried taking away the 2 hr nap during the day but that makes dinner time horrible. Also, if daycare is going to make him take a nap, all that training (of not taking a nap) is useless. btw, nap time during wknds are as bad as bed time at night.

I think I’m also going to try the sleeping bag part. Every night, I tell him to stop moving in his bed. The nights he stops moving, he falls asleep within minutes. I have to wrap him up like I wrap up the little one :)

Thanks for the advice you guys.. I’ll do anything to make bed time better.

first time poster

September 24th, 2009
11:33 am

I wouldn’t worry to much about having to lay down with your 3 y/o. I don’t know of any 18 y/o’s who have to have mom or dad lay down with them to go to sleep (i.e., he’ll grow out of it when he’s ready). Unless of course it’s a burden on the family as a whole to do this.

New Stepmom

September 24th, 2009
11:44 am

JJ it sounds like you and I had similar childhoods. We lived in a large subdivision in Gwinnett and from mid morning to supper time in the summer we were out playing-Riding bikes, playing “Charlie’s Angels” (one of my favorites, especially when I got to be Kelly), building forts, fighting with the boys ;o) and just general exploring. We came home tired and dirty, but always had fun and used our brains and bodies. The other thing that amazex me is there were times we would have spats and we always worked it out on our own with no parental involvement. I truly hate that my stepdaughter does not have that experience. All of her interactions with other kids are organized sports activities or “play dates.” She does nothing without supervision where she can just “go play.” I hope when I have kids that I live in a spot where kids can have the kind of free play we had growing up!

JJ

September 24th, 2009
12:18 pm

gpkbsin – try classical music. And put the Boombox UP so he can’t reach it.

I put classical music on in my child’s room when she was small. It helped her relax and fall asleep. Sometimes now when I can’t fall asleep, I find some classical music and play it very low.

Since I did that with my daughter, she now has an appreciation for classical music…..and sometimes I catch her playing my CD’s on her boom box….

pd

September 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

On a related note, a new study suggests that eating reduces hunger.

I’m with jct, they wasted time on this study.

When my 6 year old tells me he can’t sleep, which is about once a week. I make him do push ups and pull ups and jumping jacks until he can’t do anymore. Then I tell him to go to bed and not to come out. Usually works well.

I saw part of a television documentary last night called “The World’s Strongest Toddler”. It was about a 3 year old boy who had the strength of 5 toddlers. His parents ran him ragged all day. Gymnastics>Swimming>Basketball and he still couldn’t sleep at night. It was interesting, but I flipped channels at the commercial break and forgot to go back.

pd

September 24th, 2009
12:52 pm

JJ

September 24th, 2009
12:53 pm

Reading gets them to sleep quickly too…

Christina

September 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

I plan to send in my father-in-law for one of his long-winded lectures. Those always put the rest of us to sleep . . . ;-)

lakerat

September 24th, 2009
1:09 pm

I was trying to figure out what to do for National Punctuation Day, then I got my period.

gpkbsin

September 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

@pd — I saw that show. I feel for the parents who have to run him around all day. they showed that the kid’s teenage sister got tired quick babysitting him :)

@JJ — I’ll try classical music

@first time poster — Its not a hassle to go through this. We’ve given up watching tv, relaxing etc. Whoever puts him to bed gets the most sleep cause we fall asleep before he does. I really hope he gets over it by 5 and not 18 :). We’re just hoping that once the little gets older, they can sleep in the same room and keep each other company. I don’t care if they play till midnight, its only going to happen for a few days and then they’ll figure out that they need their sleep.

We read at least 5 books to him every night. we also tell him couple of stories every night. We have learnt to just play along for now. In 5 months, we will try something different.

Michelle

September 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

gpkbsin- Try reading this book: Sleepless in America-Is your child misbehaving or missing sleep? It really gives a lot of insight into child behaviors and “catching” their window for being sleepy, ready for bed, etc. It gets a bit redundant after a couple of chapters, but I found it to be quite helpful!

I started implementing some of the ideas last year when I was having trouble with my kindergartner at school. It helped some. This year, he was able to tell me (when he started having a couple of issues) that he needed to go to bed earlier. And…it has worked! Since we moved his bedtime back an hour, he has done MUCH better!

JJ

September 24th, 2009
1:25 pm

gpkbsin – As much as I hate to tell you this, your child is ruling the roost, and controlling you.

We’ve given you a lot of advice here today…..so I wish you the best of luck…….It will affect him when school starts……and the little one will pick up on this behavior and soon you will have some serious sleep issues in your home!!!!

BRC

September 24th, 2009
3:34 pm

gpkbsin – If your MIL is truly there to help, she should understand what you are trying to do regarding getting the older child to sleep. Sometimes tears are involved in growing up. If her presence is hindering how you want to do things in your house, maybe her visit should be curtailed, or if possible, limited to daylight hours. Five months sounds like a long time to wait if you really want to change the behaviors that are happening now.

BRC

September 24th, 2009
3:36 pm

As far as the today’s blog topic goes, I think no one is really addressing it because it is so painfully and patently obvious.

gpkbsin

September 24th, 2009
4:06 pm

@Michelle — I’ll read the book for sure. Thanks.

@JJ — I know he rules. yeah, I want to get this whole thing working before he goes to school in 3 years. He wakes up early no matter what. if there is a little bit of noise in the house, he wakes up cause he doesn’t want to miss anything.

@BRC — I want my mil there. she is there to help with the little one. believe me, i’d rather wait 5 months than lose all the sleep I would if she weren’t around. Also, she helps a lot of with the 3 yr old’s behavioral problems. She is teaching us things that we had never thought of. He’s been doing everything without fuss nowadays… i mean everything.. brushing teeth, eating (even if he doesn’t eat a lot), bathing, going to his room for bedtime etc.. Next is to get him to do things on his own. its amazing how this kid has transformed since mil has come to live with us.

sorry for digressing from today’s topic. I’ve got amazing number of ideas that I can implement in 5 months :). Thanks everybody.