Health & Wellness

Study: Sleepy Kids Nothing New

Study: Sleepy Kids Nothing New

Are your kids getting enough sleep? Many parents and pediatric healthcare professionals are asking themselves this question on a daily basis.

A study by The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that this question and our need to ask it is nothing new. Researchers find that we, as a society, are consistently concerned about the insufficient amount of sleep our children are getting while being unable to identify a norm or find a solution.

According to details outlined in the study: “These enduring concerns have spawned a number of attempts at formulating recommendations on appropriate sleep durations for children and adolescents, dating as far back as 1897….Despite growing concerns, few studies have aimed to determine how much sleep children actually need to provide an evidence base for these recommendations.”

Related: Dealing with Your Child’s Bedtime Personality 

The Study

Using academic search engines, researches identified articles dating from 1897 to 2009 containing data related to the actual sleep durations of children (aged 5 to 18 years) and the recommended sleep durations for children of that age.

These articles were analyzed to determine whether change in recommended sleep time for children correlated with the actual sleep time of children of the same gender, during the same year, in the same country.

Thirty-two sets of sleep recommendations were identified using the search criteria. Researchers also used the related social and philosophical trends of the time period in which each sleep recommendation was created to analyze the data.

Related: Tips on Making Bedtime Less of a Battlefield

The Results

Researchers found that recommended sleep for children decreased, on average,
by approximately 70 minutes over the course of the 20th century.


The authors of the study acknowledge a lack of empirical evidence for sleep recommendations. The problem of children getting inadequate sleep is seen as a symptom of ‘modern life’ and the fast pace of society, including the use of video games, cell phones, and other emerging technologies that stimulate children during the day and often at night. Researchers go onto suggest that society’s increasing concern regarding the sleeping habits of children is a result of evidence suggesting children need more sleep while society consistently allows for less.

These findings appear in PEDIATRICS,  Volume 129, Number 3, March 2012.

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Danielle Miller is a freelance writer and editor from the Boston area. She is a publishing project manager and has written articles on health and relationship-related topics for various outlets for several years. She is also a book editor, working mainly on books relating to science, technology, and user experience.  Read more:

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