Make Sleep a Priority Chapter 16

Why Kids Need Their Sleep

Sleep helps kids grow, learn and stay active.


The Kids Are Awake

In a recent, extensive study of 1,400 U.S. kids' sleep habits, sleep deficiency was a recurring theme. Below, the recommended amount of sleep for kids in each age group compared with the average amount they actually get, according to the study:

Age 10
Sleep, on average: 9.5 hours
Should sleep: 10 to 11 hours

Age 14
Sleep, on average: 8.5 hours
Should sleep: 9 hours

Age 17
Sleep, on average: 8 hours
Should sleep: 9 hours


While some kids get just an hour or so less than the ideal amount of sleep, the negative effects are measurable. Additionally, 36% of kids ages 3 to 8 who slept 10 hours or fewer were overweight by the time they got to middle school. LESS


What Are the Risks?

Sleep loss interferes with important growth processes (See Chapter 6: “Sleep Helps Your Body Rebuild”). Kids and teens experience a surge of growth hormone, the signaling chemical that drives growth and repair of muscles, bones and other tissues. Because of the timing of this growth-hormone release, kids who stay asleep through full sleep cycles will get the maximum benefit.

Kids who get even an hour less sleep than they need can experience impaired learning, memory, attention, and concentration. Sleep quality and quantity both have an impact on school performance. The stages of sleep during which memory-storage takes place is crucial to storing new facts and skills that kids have learned throughout the day. If kids sleep too little, or wake in the middle of sleep cycles, this process may be interrupted. And if they are groggy and cranky from lack of sleep at school, they may not take in the new information in the first place. READ MORE

Kids' appetite control hormones are regulated during sleep, so their feelings of satiety are affected by interrupted sleep. (See Chapter 9, “Sleep Fights Weight Gain.”) Some of the factors that interfere with kids' sleep also contribute to obesity: late-night eating and sugary, caffeinated drinks. Kids with a TV in their bedroom spend an average of almost 1.5 hours more per day watching TV than kids without a TV in the bedroom. Those are hours when they are neither active, nor getting sleep. It's no wonder that kids with television in their rooms are more likely to be overweight. LESS

theVisualMD Wishes to Thank our Scientific Collaborators:

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