Sweet dreams! Sleep keeps you healthy!

Download the Tip Sheet (PDF) 
Prepare a 10-minute AMA Youth Run Club School Health Advocacy Talk on “Sweet Dreams: Sleep Keeps you Healthy” based on the suggested talking points, below:

1. Why do we need sleep?  What does sleep do for our bodies and minds?

  • Sleep is as important as food and water for keeping your body healthy. 
  • During sleep, your body takes a break, takes care of itself, and builds your energy back up after your active, busy day. For your body, sleep is like a “mini-vacation!”
    (Ask kids: What types of activities do you do during the day that your body might need a break from, at night?)
  • Your brain needs sleep, too. But while your body takes a break during sleep, your brain doesn’t. It still keeps working to get you ready for your next busy day. Scientists don’t know everything that the brain does during sleep, but they know it uses some of that time to store things in memory, study what happened during your day and even work on problems that may be bothering you.

2. How much sleep do kids need?  (Ask kids to guess)

  • Children aged 5 to 12: normally 10-to-11 hours
  • Teens: usually 9 to 10 hours

3. Why is it so important to get the proper amount of sleep?  (Ask kids for their ideas/answers)

  • So you’re not still tired when you wake up.
  • You’re in a better mood. It’s not fun starting the day moody or grumpy.
  • Sleep helps prepare your mind and body for paying attention and concentrating; two things very important for learning and success at school.
  • Sleep gives you more energy for all the things you do in a busy day (like the Youth Run Club)!
  • Sleep improves your reflexes, helping you with games and sports and avoiding
    every-day safety hazards, like slipping on ice or bumping into a door opening suddenly in front of you.

4. Tips for a good sleep

(sources:myhealthalberta.ca | Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development)
  • Keep to a regular schedule for mealtime, play, bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine (maybe a light snack like milk, read, listen to calm music) and stop all stimulating activities including screen time; computer and television) 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet.
  • Use your bedroom only to sleep:  no TV or electronic devices in your bedroom. It’s much more difficult to go to sleep if you watch TV or use your computer near bedtime. And remember: No more than two hours of screen time during the day. Why? You need to do other things – be active, play outside – to stay healthy.
  • Being active every day (yay! Run Club!) helps you sleep, but don’t exercise too late (finish at least three hours before bedtime). Why? Activity makes your mind more alert, so you won’t feel sleepy, and raises body temperature. Your body wants to be cooler, to sleep.
  • Finish eating meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Stay away from products with caffeine (for example, colas) after mid-afternoon.
  • If worrying keeps you from sleeping, tell your mom or dad. Talking about it will help.

Talk Support Tips

Hold a mini-medical school on Sleep

Tell the kids that as a doctor, you learn from your patients. Ask the kids to help you understand why they sometimes don’t get enough sleep:

  • Why do kids have trouble getting to bed on time?
  • How can someone help a child who doesn’t feel sleepy, prepare for bed? Or what can the child do to prepare himself/herself for bed?
  • Have the children pretend to be the doctor: What would they tell kids to get them to sleep more, in order to stay healthy?

Give-away: Contact Jodi-Ann Sadler, AMA Professional Affairs (780-482-0305 | 1.800.272.9680, ext. 5305) to obtain a small give-away item to distribute to the students, post-talk.

Fun quiz – Funny ways that animals sleep

Select a few animals (from the bullet points below) and have the kids guess how (and where) they sleep. Ask the kids to demonstrate the various sleeping positions. (source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine: I see the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story)

  • Leopards - able to sleep on a tree  branch without falling off
  • Horses – “lock” their legs to sleep standing up (to run away if a predator comes)
  • Sea otters – float on top of the water and wrap themselves in seaweed to stay put
  • Flamingoes – sleep while balancing on one leg
  • Walruses – sleep in the water but dig their tusks into the ice so they don’t float away
  • Mallard ducks – sleep lined up four in a row; the ducks on the ends sleep with one eye open
  • Dolphins/whales – sleep with only half their brain at a time (the other half stays awake so they can swim while sleeping)
  • Giraffes – curve their long neck around like a pretzel to rest their head on their backside

What animal always sleeps with its shoes on? (Answer: A horse)

HELPFUL HINT: Talk to the run club coach before selecting your topic; for coach contact information, contact Hayley Degaust, Provincial Projects Coordinator, Ever Active Schools (Hayley@everactive.org | 780.454.4745)

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.