Good sleep hygiene is associated with positive sleep outcomes, such as longer sleep duration and better quality of sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes regular bedtimes, consistent bedtime routines (e.g., bathing, brushing teeth, reading) and screen-free bedrooms.

One-third of youth keep their mobile devices in bed with them.

Having screens in bedrooms is consistently linked with less sleep.

Sleep is essential for the health, development and daily functioning of children and adolescents.

Healthy sleep encompasses many dimensions, including adequate duration, good quality, appropriate timing and the absence of sleep disorders. However, insufficient sleep has become common in today’s society, and the most recent findings indicate that approximately one-fourth to one-third of Canadian children and youth sleep less than recommended for optimal health. Furthermore, recent Canadian data on 6- to 79-year-olds show that the prevalence of insomnia is increasing. These statistics are not encouraging because a growing body of scientific evidence shows that lack of sleep threatens the academic success, health and safety of children and youth.

Reasons for not sleeping enough are multiple and complex, and vary widely among people. Factors associated with insufficient sleep can include socio-demographic factors, lack of time, excessive screen use, caffeine consumption, lack of parental monitoring, work/school demands or social activities. The ideal amount of sleep required each night can vary between individuals due to genetic factors and other reasons, and it is important to adapt our recommendations on a case-by-case basis. Sleep duration recommendations (public health approach) are well suited to provide guidance at the population level; however, as the ideal amount of sleep required each night can vary between individuals, recommendations provided at the individual level (e.g., in clinic) should be adjusted on a case-by-case basis. Despite the fact that there is no “magic number” for the ideal amount of sleep, we need to continue to promote sleep health for all Canadians, as it is an important public health issue that needs to be addressed.

The concept of sleep health is gaining momentum globally. Rather than “medicalizing” sleep with a focus on sleep disorders and their treatment, there is growing interest in sleep health promotion for all and on the prevention of health problems by keeping healthy people healthy. In Canada, sleep health is increasingly becoming part of a holistic vision of health, and this provides a metric for health promotion efforts. One of the outcomes of this evolving understanding of sleep health in Canada has been the release in 2016 of the world’s first integrated 24-hour movement guidelines for the pediatric population. They were the first systematic review-informed sleep guidelines in Canada, and provided important benchmarks for surveillance. They also integrated sleep health with other movement behaviours by putting emphasis on movement across the full 24- hour period rather than on individual intensities of movement. The future of pediatric sleep health in Canada is thus bright, and we need to align our efforts and continue to push for the integration of 24-hour movement behaviours in the public health arena.

Sleep and the Family Unit

Family systems are dynamic and include reciprocal interactions among family members at night and during the day. When children have difficulty sleeping, they often awaken parents, thereby impacting the parents’ sleep and possibly daytime functioning. Parental behaviours can also disrupt children’s sleep patterns. Thus, children’s sleep cannot be understood in isolation and it is important to view sleep from a family context.

In general, parents who value the importance of sleep are more likely to have children who have a good night’s sleep.

Parental knowledge of children’s sleep has recently been examined in a systematic review. In general, parent knowledge of children’s sleep needs, routines and problems was poor. Greater accuracy was reported for items pertaining to healthy sleep practices at bedtime and daytime symptoms in comparison with items pertaining to child sleep problems during the night. More knowledgeable parents were more likely to report that their children had healthy sleep practices. This finding is in line with recent results showing that parents with better sleep knowledge, higher income and higher education were more likely to report that their children had earlier bedtimes and wake-up times, and more consistent sleep routines.

Week 10

Week 12



ParticipACTION. The Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth. The 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: ParticipACTION; 2020. The 2020 Report Card and a summary of its findings (the Highlight Report) are available online at


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