"We were very surprised to find how little preschool aged children actually sleep at night, which we could measure with our activity monitors. Children in our sample slept only about 8.7 hours at night and less than 9.5 hours per 24 hours when naps were included. This contrasts with the 12 to 15 hours usually recommended for children this age," says lead author Christine Acebo, PhD, of the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Research Laboratory.
Other studies show that decreased sleep in older children, teenagers, and adults may lead to physical and cognitive problems including decreased physical performance, lower academic performance and reduced cognitive and other daytime functioning. Several studies in adults also link lack of sleep to neuroendocrine abnormalities that may lead to overeating and obesity.
"We are concerned that the problem of too little sleep extends even to the youngest members of families, though we do not know if this puts them at risk for problems down the line," says Acebo.
The research paper, published in the December issue of the journal Sleep, corroborates the results of a recent survey of parents, funded by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and Pampers Baby-Dry, showing that many children from newborn to age four do not get the minimum 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day recommended by the NSF and pediatric sleep experts.
Acebo and colleagues studied 169 children between 1 and 5 years old, once a week in their homes. The children wore activity monitors on their ankles or wrists to record their sleep, and mothers also chronicled their children's sleep habits in d
Contact: Carol L. Vieira