Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Not getting enough shut-eye is bad for everyone, and for kids, a lack of sleep has been linked to a poor diet and obesity…

Does your child get enough sleep?

In a new study of over 177 000 students, researchers found links between insufficient sleep duration and unhealthy lifestyle profiles among children and adolescents.

Unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits included skipping breakfast, eating fast-foods, consuming sweets, as well as increased screen time and being overweight/obese.

“Approximately 40 percent of schoolchildren in the study slept less than recommended,” says senior author Labros Sidossis, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Insufficient sleeping levels were associated with poor dietary habits, increased screen time and obesity in both genders.”

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How much sleep do children need?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours.

In the study, derived from a school-based health survey completed in Greece by 177 091 children) between the ages of 8 and 17 years, children who reported that they usually sleep fewer than nine hours per day and adolescents sleeping fewer than eight hours per day, were classified as having insufficient sleep.

Level of fitness linked to sleep

Teens with an insufficient sleep duration also had lower aerobic fitness and physical activity.

“The most surprising finding was that aerobic fitness was associated with sleep habits,” said Sidossis. “In other words, better sleep habits were associated with better levels of aerobic fitness. We can speculate that adequate sleep results in higher energy levels during the day. Therefore, children who sleep well are maybe more physically active during the day and hence have higher aerobic capacity.”

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.