Less than half of American children get enough sleep, study finds

Less than half of American children get enough sleep: Kids that get less than nine hours do worse in school and face higher obesity risks, study finds

  • Children between ages six and 13 sleep are recommended to get nine to 11 hours of sleep every night, while teens are suggested to get eight to 10 hours
  • Only 48% of children between ages six to 17 got nine hours of sleep on weeknights  
  • But those who did sleep nine hours were more likely to be interested in learning new things and cared about doing well in school 
  • Kids and teens who didn’t get enough sleep were at increased risk of depression and obesity, researchers said 

Barely half of children and teenagers in the US get enough sleep during the week, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that about only 48 percent get nine hours of sleep every night that the group recommends. 

Those who did get between nine and 11 hours were much more likely to care about how well they did in school, did their homework and had an interest in learning new things.  

Meanwhile, children who didn’t get enough sleep were at an increased risk of suffering from depression and obesity and having poor academic performance.

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that kids who sleep at least nine hours every night do more homework and care more about their performance in school (file image)

The National Sleep Foundation recommends children between ages six and 13 sleep nine to 11 hours every night, while teens are should get eight to 10 hours.

But more than 60 percent of middle schoolers and 70 percent of high schoolers don’t get enough sleep every night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Studies have suggested this can hinder their performance in school and lead to other physical and mental health issues, including depression and substance abuse.

For the study, the team looked at the answers of parents of nearly 50,000 children between ages six and 17 from the National Survey of Children’s Health.  

Among the topics the survey quizzes parents on were their kids sleep habits and overall well-being.  

Researchers defined sufficient shut-eye as a child sleeping at least nine hours on an average weeknight.

Parents were then asked about their children’s signs of ‘flourishing’, which is a measure of behavioral and social well-being.

This included questions about whether the child had an interest in learning new things, cared about their performance in school, did homework, finished tasks that they started, and stayed calm if they were met with a challenge.  

Previous studies have suggested that the more ‘flourishing markers’ a child has, the more likely he or she will have healthy behaviors and fewer risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.

Results showed that only 47.6 percent of the six to 17-year-olds got sufficient sleep every night.

The children that did get get good nights’ rest were 44 percent more likely to show curiosity in learning new things, 33 percent more likely to do all their homework and 28 percent more likely to care about doing well in school.  

‘Insufficient sleep among adolescents is associated with…consequences including increased risk of depression and obesity and negative effects on mood, attention and academic performance,’ said abstract author Dr Hoi See Tsao, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

‘As healthcare providers, we want every child to reach his or her full potential.

‘Our research shows that children who get enough sleep are more likely to demonstrate measures of childhood flourishing in comparison to children with insufficient sleep.’ 

She added that the findings provide evidence of the need for public health campaigns to get children to go to sleep earlier.

This included teaching kids and teens about bedtime routines and getting schools to push back school start times. 

‘Interventions like these may help children demonstrate more measures of childhood flourishing, enhance their development and give them brighter futures,’ said Dr Tsao.

Results are being presented the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans on Saturday. 

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