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Physically Active Children Fall Asleep Faster

Study finds each sedentary hour adds approximately three minutes to sleep latency

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Daytime physical activity is associated with faster sleep latency in children, and the more inactive children are, the harder it is for them to fall asleep at the end of the day, according to a study published online July 24 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Gillian M. Nixon, M.D., of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 871 children recruited at birth, of whom 591 were followed up at the age of 7 years. Complete sleep data was available for 519 of the children.

Median sleep latency was 26 minutes, ranging from 13 minutes to 42 minutes for each quartile, and daytime activity was positively associated with sleep latency, the investigators discovered. Conversely, each hour of sedentary activity was associated with a 3.1 minute increase in the time it took to get to sleep, the researchers found.

"In addition, longer sleep duration was associated with shorter sleep latency, raising the possibility of short sleep latency as a marker for 'good sleepers'," the authors write. "As short sleep duration is associated with obesity and lower cognitive performance, community emphasis on the importance of promoting healthy sleep in children is vitally important. This study emphasizes the importance of physical activity for children, not only for fitness, cardiovascular health and weight control, but also for sleep."

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