KIDS AND SLEEP
School-aged children are busier than ever before, and some may be sacrificing sleep to accommodate their lifestyles. The National Sleep Foundation says school-aged children need between nine and 11 hours of sleep each night to function at a healthy level. Sleep deprivation can be linked to a host of health ailments, including issues affecting the development of the brain. Growing evidence suggests that lack of sleep can cause disturbances in metabolic rates that could affect the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that for each additional hour of sleep a child gets, the risk of that child becoming overweight or obese decreases by 9 percent. Children who slept the least, according to the research, had a 92 percent higher risk of being overweight or obese compared to children with longer sleep duration. The NSF adds that poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems and cognitive problems that impact kids’ ability to learn in school. To promote good sleep habits in children, parents and other caregivers can establish consistent sleep/wake routines; ensure children avoid excess caffeine, particularly late in the day; create a cool, dark sleep environment; keep televisions and other media devices out of bedrooms and help children work through stressors that may impact sleep.