Young Children Don't Sleep Enough
Even Infants Are Sleep-Deprived, a Trend That Continues
March 30, 2004 -- Apparently, you're never too young to have sleep
deprivation. A new survey finds that children in every age group from infancy
to elementary school don't get even the minimum recommended levels of
And, usually, their parents are clueless about it.
"There is a clear disconnect on what parents think their children need
and what the kids are really getting," says Jodi Mindell, PhD, who chairs
the National Sleep Foundation task force that prepared the survey. "When
you ask parents if their child gets enough sleep, most say 'yes.' When you
compare that to the number of hours that children are actually sleeping, two in
three parents will learn their children don't."
The Sleep in America Poll, done each year by the foundation, adds more
evidence to a well-documented fact: Americans are sleep-deprived.
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"We know from all past six years of this poll that adults are not
getting enough sleep," says Mindell, associate director of the Sleep
Disorders Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and author of
Sleeping Through the Night. "And there are many studies showing that
adolescents don't get enough sleep.
"This time, it's not a question of kids losing sleep because they have
to go to school earlier. The school times for children attending daycare and
elementary school haven't changed," she tells WebMD. "But they are
still sleeping less than they should by at least 30 minutes a night. That
amounts to two lost nights of sleep each month."
Some likely reasons, suggests the survey, based on answers from 1,500
parents of young children:
- Two in three kids have at least one sleep problem several times a week,
such as resistance in going to sleep, trouble falling asleep, night awakenings,
or snoring. And one in three needs attention from their parents at least once a
- Nearly half of kids -- including one in three preschoolers -- have a TV in
their bedrooms. They get about two hours less sleep each week than children who
- One in four kids has at least one caffeinated beverage a day, and averages
three and a half hours less sleep per week than children who don't have
Bad Habits Start Young
But perhaps most surprising: Half of all infants are sleep-deprived; they
are getting less sleep than they should -- usually falling short by about one
to two hours per 24-hour period.
This suggests that even as babies, children are developing bad sleeping
habits. "And that concerns me as they move on to adolescence -- when we
know they don't get enough sleep," says Amy Wolfson, PhD, of the College of
the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., who has studied infant sleep habits and the
effects on their parents.