Do Active Children Sleep Longer?

Do Active Children Sleep Longer?

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Carrie McBride
Aug 10, 2009

Although it's somewhat counterintuitive, new parents are told (and eventually come to experience and believe) that an overtired baby or infant won't sleep well. We can't tell you how many times we've told our mother that keeping our son up late doesn't mean he will sleep longer (in fact the opposite is true) even if it seems logical. Similarly, it also seems like a no-brainer that the more physical activity a kid gets during the day the better he or she will sleep. Researchers put this "truism" to a test...

Researchers found it is true that more active children sleep better. They studied over 500 7-year olds who wore devices called actigraphs which measure movement and found that more physical activity resulted in kids falling asleep more quickly. And they next found a correlate between how long it took to fall asleep and how long a child would sleep - an extra hour of sleep for every 11 minute drop in the length of time it took to fall asleep.

The study was done in New Zealand and published in Archives of Disease in Childhood. What? Your subscription ran out? You can find a summary here. We'd like to see this study done with younger children as well since we haven't seen consistently longer sleep from our son on days when he has more playground time.

(photo by Carrie McBride)

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