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One in Three Children Fall Short of Sleep Recommendations

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Sept. 27, 2021 -- More than a third of children in the United States get less sleep than recommended, with higher rates occurring among several racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, according to a CDC report.

Among children 4 months to 17 years old, 34.9% got less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age and just 33.9% had a regular bedtime, Anne G. Wheaton, PhD, and Angelika H. Claussen, PhD, said in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Black children were more likely to miss the guidelines, as parents reported that 50.8% of children of all ages were not getting the recommended amount of sleep, compared with 39.1% of Hispanics, 34.6% for other races, and 28.8% for Whites. The figure for Black infants was 64.2%, almost double the rate for white infants (32.9%), Wheaton and Claussen said.

Short sleep was more common in children from lower-income families and among those with less educated parents. Geography had an effect as well, with prevalence “highest in the Southeast, similar to geographic variation in adequate sleep observed for adults,” they noted.

Previous research has shown that “sleep disparity was associated with various social determinants of health (e.g., poverty, food insecurity, and perceived racism), which can increase chronic and acute stress and result in environmental and psychological factors that negatively affect sleep duration and can compound long-term health risks,” the investigators wrote.

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