Are children getting enough good-quality sleep?

A new research brief from Child Trends looks at the evidence on children’s sleep habits and their well-being and development. After reviewing data from various sources such as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Sleep Foundation, and several journal articles, Child Trends offers the following conclusions:

  1. Most children are getting adequate sleep. There is no consistent evidence that children or adolescents are getting less sleep now than in the past; in fact, adolescents and young adults report somewhat more hours of sleep now than they did a decade ago.
  2. Sleepiness can be a warning sign. There is good evidence that sleepiness, regardless of its origins, puts children and young people at risk of unintentional injuries and, for adolescents who are drivers, increases the likelihood of road accidents.
  3. The relationship between short sleep duration and being overweight is controversial. There is sufficient evidence for a number of researchers to recommend that we look seriously at improving sleep as a strategy for preventing obesity.
  4. Use of electronic media, particularly in the bedroom, can lead to poor-quality sleep. Children’s use of mobile phones, tablets, computers, and TV close to bedtime, and especially having such media in their bedroom, is associated with poor-quality sleep.
  5. Adolescents may benefit from later school start-times. Preliminary evidence shows that later start times are associated with improved attendance, discipline, alertness, mood, and health.

Source: Five Things to Know about Children and Sleep (2014), Child Trends.

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