Can physical activity improve your child’s sleep?

This is a no brainer! But as we head into the winter months, it can be hard to make sure that  your kids are getting as much physical activity as they do in the summer, and to ensure that they get the fresh air and the sunlight that they need to encourage healthy sleep.  But, I encourage you to make the effort! Even if it does take what feels like an hour to get everyone’s winter gear on!! 🥴😅 But, physical activity does in fact improve your child’s sleep! Let’s delve into why and read on for some examples of physical activities in the winter to keep your kids (and you!) moving and encourage the healthy sleep that they need!

Why children need physical activity

In today’s fast-paced digital world, it’s more important than ever to prioritize the health and well-being of our children. Two key factors that significantly impact their overall development are exercise and fresh air. Not only do these elements contribute to physical fitness, but they also play a crucial role in promoting quality sleep. Here is how physical activity helps your children and promotes sleep:

1. Physical Activity and Energy Expenditure:
Regular exercise is essential for children as it helps them burn off excess energy and maintain a healthy weight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, engaging in physical activities such as running, playing sports, or cycling not only strengthens their muscles and bones but also improves cardiovascular health. When kids exert themselves through exercise, they experience a natural fatigue that prepares their bodies for a restful night’s sleep.  That is a win!

2. Mental and Emotional Well-being:
Exercise has a huge impact on your child’s mental and emotional well-being. It releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, which reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. By engaging in physical activities outdoors, children also benefit from exposure to natural sunlight, which boosts their mood and enhances their overall mental health.  Another little fact… sunlight is actually a blue light source, which promotes melatonin production throughout the day, aiding in better sleep when bedtime rolls around!

Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate the body’s internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm plays a crucial role in determining when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy. By engaging in outdoor activities, children are exposed to natural light, which helps synchronize their circadian rhythm.

3. Fresh Air and Oxygen Intake:
Spending time outdoors exposes children to fresh air, which is rich in oxygen. Oxygen is vital for the body’s functioning, including the brain’s cognitive processes. When kids breathe in fresh air, their bodies receive an adequate supply of oxygen, which helps improve concentration, memory, and overall cognitive performance. This, in turn, contributes to better sleep quality, as a well-rested brain is better equipped to regulate sleep patterns.

4. Establishing Healthy Habits:
Encouraging your child to engage in regular exercise and spend time outdoors sets the foundation for lifelong healthy habits. By incorporating physical activity and fresh air into their daily routine, kids develop a sense of discipline and responsibility towards their own well-being. These habits not only benefit their sleep patterns in childhood but also contribute to a healthier lifestyle as they grow into adulthood.

child and parent exercise

Winter Outdoor Activities

It can be difficult to find activities outdoors as the weather turns colder, and who can blame… it can be so comforting and cozy to stay inside. But, getting your children motivated and out the door will be worth it, I promise!

  1. Rack up the leaves and play in a leaf pile.
  2. Fall scavenger hunt on a trail or even in your neighborhood.
  3. Go sledding at the local neighborhood hill.
  4. Take a hike or go for a walk.
  5. Build a snowman.
  6. Snow tubing at your local ski hill. (I promise you this will tire them out!)
  7. Find sticks to build a campfire.
  8. Snowshoeing.
  9. Ice skating.
  10. Make snow angels.
  11. Have a snowball fight.
  12. Go for a walk in the snow.

Getting your child’s sleep on track

If you are having trouble with your child’s sleep, here are a few tips to help get that on track as well.  If these tips are not making a difference and you are exhausted, book a complimentary call with me today for more support and guidance.

  1.  Establish a calming bedtime routine.
  2. Make sure that your child is getting up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time each day.
  3. For our littles, follow the correct awake windows.
  4. Make sure that your child sees daylight right away in the morning after getting dressed to help get their circadian rhythm moving.
  5. Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep in a 24 hour period.
  6. Help your child learn the skills to fall asleep independently. (Need help with this? Check out the support that I offer tired families.
  7. Make sure that your child is getting the fresh air and physical activity that they need!

Let’s get moving

Physical activity will have a direct impact on your child’s health and well-being, and will improve their quality of sleep at night.  Help your child establish healthy habits, by participating with them in physical activity (it’s good for you too!).  What are your favorite winter activities to get outside and get moving?  Comment below! Happy Moving! And be sure to sign up here for monthly sleep tips and more!

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