Sleeping child

Fewer than half of the 6-17 year-olds in the U.S. get enough sleep each night.

Only 48% of school age children in the United States get 9 hours of sleep most weeknights, according to new research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2019 National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans. Those who do, the study suggests, are significantly more likely to show a positive outlook toward school and other signs of "childhood flourishing," a measure of behavioral and social well-being.

"Chronic sleep loss is a serious public health problem among children," said Hoi See Tsao, MD, FAAP. "Insufficient sleep among adolescent, for example, is associated with physical and mental health consequences including increased risk of depression and obesity and negative effects on mood, attention and academic performance."

Researchers analyzed responses from parents and caregivers of 49,050 children ranging in age from 6-17 years old in the combined 2016-2017 National Survey of Children's Health.

The researchers found that sufficient sleep, reported in only 47.6% of the 6 to 17-year-old children, was positively associated with interest and curiosity in learning new things; caring about doing well in school; finishing tasks, and staying calm when faced with a challenge.

The researchers also identified risk factors associated with insufficient sleep that included increased duration of digital media usage, increased number of adverse childhood experiences and the presence of mental health conditions.

Dr. Tsao said the study reinforces the importance of increasing efforts to help children get the recommended amount of sleep for their age. She said efforts should especially focus on digital media usage, bedtime routines, the length of the school day and school start times.

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