While it’s not new how imperative it is for children to get enough sleep at night, a new study is showing just how prevalent of an issue it is—and how much they thrive when they do get enough rest. Research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2019 National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans shows that only 47.6 percent of school age children in the U.S. are getting the recommended nine hours of sleep on weeknights.
Quality sleep goes beyond being well-rested, the research shows that sleep also has a significant effect on what AAP researchers refer to as “childhood flourishing.” This is a measure of behavioral and social well-being.
The researchers compiled data from nearly 50,000 parents and caregivers on the amount of sleep their children, aged 6-17, were getting on average weeknights. They then compared it against five childhood flourishing markers: if the child showed interest and curiosity in learning new things; cared about doing well in school; did required homework; worked to finish tasks started; and stayed calm and in control when faced with a challenge.
Sufficient sleep was defined as greater than or equal to nine hours, while insufficient sleep was considered eight or less hours. Prior AAP research showed that the more flourishing markers children had, the more likely they were to have healthier behaviors and less risky behaviors. The new study showed that children who got sufficient sleep met more of the flourishing markers, including those who met all five.
Whether it’s TV, sports or homework keeping kids up, AAP researchers reinforced how important it is for school age kids to sleep enough, especially when waking up early for school. We already know that sleep affects kids and adults in numerous ways—growth, attitude, diet—but childhood flourishing? That’s something we all want our kids to exceed at. Ultimately, more sleep will benefit the whole family, because seeing them do well will help you do well. And might even raise those grades.