Health risks for sleep-deprived kids

Many parents already know that kids who don’t get enough sleep can get cranky, but after looking at the sleeping patterns of close to 5,000 9- and 10-year-olds, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that sleep deprivation could be linked to some serious health issues.

Kids between 6 and 12 years old should really be getting between 9 and 12 hours of sleep per night. Younger kids should get even more. The children in the study slept an average of 10-and-a-half hours a night. But researchers found that for every extra hour of sleep the kids got, risk factors for type 2 diabetes – such as body mass index, body fat, insulin resistance and glucose levels – all went down.

It doesn’t prove a direct correlation, but it does suggest a connection. So researchers – and parents, frankly – need to be looking at this more closely. Over the past 15 years, there has been growing evidence that children and adolescents are getting less and less sleep, while type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more common in young people.

Consumer Reports says parents can encourage healthy sleeping habits from an early age by limiting screentime before bed, keeping bedtime routines consistent, and avoiding caffeine. Things like soda, energy drinks, and even chocolate can be problematic, especially later in the day. Simple interventions could help kids avoid some serious health consequences.

Wondering if your child might be sleep deprived? Some warning signs include falling asleep in the car frequently, having a hard time waking up for school, acting unusually irritable, aggressive or emotional, or being easily distracted.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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