Scientists unveil new sleep guidelines for kids
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Why are these guidelines important, and why now?
Lack of sleep is a growing trend and AASM saw a need for updated, evidence-based recommendations for adequate sleep. Most parents and care providers don’t really know how much sleep children should be getting. In fact, some studies suggest that less than one per cent of children receive science-backed interventions when they have sleep problems because so few people are educated about sleep.
Our panel examined how sleep impacts different aspects of health, such as cardiovascular, developmental, mental, and metabolic, as well as longevity, immunology, and life performance.
These new AASM guidelines focus specifically on children, were developed by pediatric specialists, and are based exclusively on pediatric studies.
How does insufficient sleep affect children’s health?
While most of the evidence that we have is associative, not cause and effect, it’s pretty persuasive.
Sleep deprivation in infants is linked to problems with emotional regulation during the day, and possibly with obesity once they reach three years of age. Toddlers who lack sleep have difficulty focusing and retaining language. They might show more aggressive, less prosocial behavior. Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life.
Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity, while 13- to 18-year-olds are more likely to suffer athletic injuries if they sleep less than eight hours. Other studies suggest sleep-deprived adolescents and teenagers show higher levels of cellular inflammation and insulin resistance.
How do we safeguard children’s sleep?
For school-aged and younger kids, bedtime should be no later than 9:00 p.m. Even older kids do better if they go to bed before 9:30 p.m.
Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better. Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps.
Follow good sleep hygiene and keep children’s bedrooms dark, cool and quiet.
Contact
Lou Corpuz-Bosshart
UBC Public Affairs
604.822.2048
604.999.0473
lou.bosshart@ubc.ca
 

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