Health Team

Lack of sleep in kids may be linked to health problems

Posted November 3, 2017 4:11 p.m. EDT
Updated November 3, 2017 6:50 p.m. EDT

— Many parents already know that, if their kids do not get enough sleep, they can get cranky.

Doctors say a lack of sleep in kids may be linked to health problems, including Type 2 diabetes.

In a recent study, researchers looked at sleep patterns of 5,000 9- and 10-year-olds. Their study found that sleep deprivation could be linked to some serious health issues.

"Kids between 6 and 12 years old should really be getting between nine and 12 hours of sleep per night. Younger kids should get even more," said ​Julia Calderone, with Consumer Reports.

The children in the study slept an average of 10.5 hours a night.

Researchers found that, for every extra hour of sleep the kids got, risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, such as body mass index, body fat, insulin resistance and glucose levels, all went down.

"It doesn't prove a direct correlation, but it does suggest a connection," Calderone said. "So, researchers and parents, frankly, need to be looking at this more closely."

Over the last 15 years, there has been growing evidence that children and adolescents are getting less sleep, while Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in young people.

Consumer Reports says parents can encourage healthy sleeping habits from an early age by limiting screen time before bed, keeping bedtime routines consistent and avoiding caffeine in things like soda and energy drinks.

Even chocolate can be problematic, especially later in the day, according to experts.

Wondering if your child might be sleep deprived? Some warning signs include falling asleep in the car frequently, having a hard time waking up for school, acting unusually irritable, aggressive or emotional or being easily distracted.