Benefits of Exercise on the Circadian Cycle and Sleep Quality in Kids

Children exercising helps them sleep better.

It’s no secret that physical activity is important for children’s health, as parents you will probably already know, the more active your little one is throughout the day, the more likely they are to sleep at night!

But did you know, exercise can also help children sleep better? Studies have shown that regular physical activity can lead to improved sleep quality in children and teens, helping them to both fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. 

So how does exercise help children sleep?

The answer lies in the body’s circadian rhythm, or “circadian cycle,” which is a 24-hour internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, through the release of hormones. Melatonin is a hormone naturally released by the circadian cycle; it is a vital part of our natural sleep process because it regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Exercise stimulates earlier melatonin release and shifts the circadian rhythm forward, allowing the body to feel more tired when it’s time to sleep. Exercise also increases the production of endorphins, which are hormones that help to improve mood and reduce stress. This can help improve the quality of sleep-in children, by allowing them to relax more easily and fall asleep faster.

How much exercise is enough to help children sleep?

Children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. It doesn’t have to be done all at once, shorter bouts of exercise spread throughout the day, leads to the same improvements in total sleep time, quality sleep and time spent falling asleep as one full bout of 60 minutes of exercise. It’s important to note that exercise should be done at least two hours before children’s bedtime, this gives the body enough time to wind down and get ready for sleep. 

What type of exercise is best?

When it comes to kids and sleep, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are two types of exercise that can help regulate the circadian cycle and improve the quality of sleep: cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is a great way for kids to get their heart rate up and increase their energy levels. Activities like running games, swimming, and biking can help kids burn off excess energy and prepare them for a good night’s sleep. Resistance exercise is also beneficial for kids. Resistance exercises like body-weight squats, lunges, press-ups, and sit-ups or lifting weights can help build strength and increase muscle tone. Kids who engage in resistance exercise also tend to have improved focus and concentration during the day, which can help them stay alert and productive.

It is important to find the right balance of exercise for children. If you would like to learn about the right types of exercise for kids, check out are online courses.

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