Losing 39 Minutes of Sleep Can Impact Kids


A child sleeps | Image by LeManna/Shutterstock

A study released on Wednesday revealed that a child losing a mere 39 minutes of sleep at night can significantly affect their overall well-being.

Researchers from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, published their findings on a sleep study among children in JAMA Network Open on March 15. Among them, it was discovered that ensuring consistent, adequate sleep for children can significantly benefit their health. Failing to do so can have adverse effects.

To conduct their research, the authors monitored 100 children aged 8 to 12 at their homes in New Zealand between October 2018 and March 2020. All participants were healthy and regularly slept between eight and 11 hours a night.

While their wake times remained the same, the children’s bedtimes were manipulated to be either one hour later or one hour earlier than usual. This would go on for one week, followed by another week at their regular bedtime.

The ways sleep extension or sleep restriction impacted the children were assessed.

To do this, researchers gave the children and their parents a questionnaire to evaluate their sleep disturbances and daytime impairment.

As the lead study author Rachael Taylor, a research professor of medicine, told CNN, their questions covered many aspects of well-being — both physical and psychological. This involved assessments of their relationships with parents and peers, as well as their performance at school.

It is noteworthy that not all children were able to actually cut back their sleep a full hour over the course of the study.

But, as Taylor explained to CNN, whatever amount they did manage to cut caused a decline in their well-being. The negative effects were even more significant when children lost half an hour or more of sleep.

Taylor advised families not to underestimate the importance of sleep and prioritize it as much as possible.

Sleep is crucial not only to children but also to parents, although our sleep needs vary by age, per the CDC.

Newborns should sleep between 14 and 17 hours, with this shifting to about 10 and 13 hours by age 5. School-aged children need between nine and 12 hours of sleep at night. Adults over the age of 18 need at least seven hours of sleep.

As The Dallas Express previously reported, North Texans don’t get enough sleep.

An examination of survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that roughly one in three of the region’s residents reported not getting enough sleep, per NBC 5.

In Dallas County, 37.2% of residents said they slept less than the recommended seven hours a night, while Tarrant County fared a bit better with 33.2%.

Dr. Neha Gandhi, a neurologist at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, told NBC 5 that the importance of sleep for a person’s overall well-being could not be understated.

“We know that poor sleep can lead to various health conditions, which include mood disorders like depression and anxiety, obesity, [and] diabetes by changing your metabolic rate. It can cause cardiovascular diseases, meaning heart diseases and stroke in some people,” said Gandhi.

Having a bedtime routine is key to improving the quality of sleep, especially for children, Ariel Williamson, a pediatric sleep expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN.

She advised turning off screens half an hour before bedtime and engaging in calming activities to prepare our bodies and minds for sleep.

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