Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury


For all the readers who have been following our weekly articles, we have learned that we need to make sure we are doing enough exercise (with our family) and not spending too much time sitting.

This week we will learn about sleep, and for those of you following our weekly walking and running training plan, today’s article will help to explain how sleep can help you get the most out of your training and perform at your best at the 2019 Move for Health 6km fun run/walk.
In today’s fast paced world, sleep has become a luxury, something we never seem to put as a priority.
But we need to remind ourselves that sleep is actually a necessity, it is the very thing that keeps us alive and functioning.
But what makes sleep a necessity? What does sleep do? Firstly, sleep helps us to restore our energy levels. We feel tired when we go to sleep but wake up feeling energised (mostly).
Secondly, sleep helps our body to build up defences against illness and infections by boosting our immune system.
Thirdly, sleep helps our brain to function at its best. When we sleep, our central nervous system sends fluid to clean the brain of all the toxins that were built up during the day and helps to “lock in what we learn” meaning that it helps our memory system function at its best.
All of these important benefits help us to perform our best on the sport field, in the gym, and during races, just ask Roger Federer and Usain Bolt, who both agree that getting enough sleep is a key part of their training schedule.
So how much sleep should we be getting?
– 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours. May include daytime naps, but aim for nocturnal (night time) sleep, with consistent bed times and wake-up times.
– 5 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours. Uninterrupted night time sleep, with consistent sleep and wake-up times.
– 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours. Uninterrupted night time sleep, with consistent sleep and wake-up times.           

– 18 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours

– 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.

Sleep is important for everyone, but one group that is particularly important for, is children – growing takes up a lot of energy.

Sufficient sleep helps children to improve their physical and mental health, emotional well-being as well as performance in the classroom and on the sports field.

Establishing a bedtime routine is vital to ensure children get enough sleep to grow and develop as they should.

But many children don’t seem to feel the same way, and instead fight to stay awake, causing many parents to give up on a bedtime routine. But it is never too late to try and establish a routine for your child, and even yourself.

Below are a few hints and tips for establishing healthy bedtime routines.

For children and adolescents:

– Start with a bedtime routine as young as possible! It is harder to change bad habits.

– Make sure the bedtime routine is age-appropriate. (E.g rocking ad nursing as an infant, reading a bedtime story as a toddler, children reading their own bedtime story as they get older)

– Keep the bedtime routine short (10 to 15 minutes)

– Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime such as loud toys, running around, and interactions with screens – this will make it take much longer for your child to fall asleep.

– Just to reiterate: Avoid screens before bed, this actually affects your sleep hormones, making you feel more awake rather than tired.

– Be consistent with the routine, but let children make some decisions such as which pyjamas to put on or what book to read – but you stay in charge of bedtime.

– Make sure the bedroom is quiet, safe and not too warm. Just like adults, children will struggle to fall asleep if it is too hot or they are too cold.

– Cape Town summer means the sun stays out longer, past many children’s bedtimes. A dark room will help children wind down and fall asleep, so try and get some light blocking curtains.

For adults:
– Create a routine for yourself including activities that allow you to wind down from the day.

– Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule.

– Make sure your bedroom is quiet and relaxing and comfortable.

– Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
– Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime, rather choose a light snack if you are hungry.

– Avoid consuming caffeine from late afternoon and alcohol before bedtime.

– Exercise regularly – this will help you get better quality sleep.
– If you struggle to fall asleep, there are many apps and videos that can be found on your smartphone or YouTube that are designed to help you wind down before bedtime. Try different things until you find what works for you.

Using these tips should get you a good night sleep and enough energy to tackle our week 4 running programme in the build up to the Woolworths/MySchool Move For Health 6km Fun Run/Walk in association with SanParks on Sunday November 3.

So keep moving for your health and inspiring others along the way. SSISA, Woolworths/MySchool, SanParks, Danone, The Claremont Rotary and WPCC are behind you.  

Week 4 Oct 14 – 20    
Running programme:
Monday: 6min jog/2min walk
Repeat two times
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 8min jog/2 min walk. 3min jog/2min walk.
Repeat two times
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 10min jog/2min walk. 3min jog/2min walk
Repeat two times.
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Brisk 20min walk
Walking programe: 
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4200 steps/35min 
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 3600 steps/30 min
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 4800 steps/40min
Sunday: 4200 steps/35min (pick up the pace for the last 10min)