Children not getting enough sleep? How parents provide support can make all the difference

News Release

24 May 2017

Sleep is increasingly being recognized as an important determinant of health, and an integral component of healthy living for children. New research from Public Health Ontario (PHO) has found that enforcing rules about bedtimes could help your child get the sleep they need on weekdays.

The study, published in BMC Public Health, found that when parents actively enforce a bedtime, their children were more likely to meet established sleep guidelines. 

“We found that ‘encouragement’ as a parental support was less effective for both weekend and weekday sleep. Enforcement of rules around bedtimes had a significant impact, but only on weekdays,” said Dr. Heather Manson, senior author and chief of Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at PHO. “We can conclude that parents enforcing a bedtime on the weekday could help support their child to achieve sufficient sleep.”

The study used self-reported data from over 1,600 parents with at least one child under the age of 18 years from Ontario. Depending on the age of the child, the proportion of parents reporting that their child met the Canadian sleep guidelines ranged from 68.3-92.6% for weekdays and 49.3-86.0% for weekends. The number of children meeting the guidelines increased between ages 5 and 9 years but declined between 10 and 17 years. Children aged 15 years old showed the greatest difference between weekday and weekend sleep, with 38.3% fewer children meeting guidelines on the weekends compared to the weekdays.

“Sleep is an integral component of healthy living for children, integrated with other behaviours such as physical activity and sedentary time. In the family context, parents’ support behaviours play an important role in their child’s health. We wanted to understand how different types of parent behaviours impacted their child’s sleep”

— Dr. Heather Manson, Chief of Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention
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Updated 24 May 2017