A new study found that kids who miss out on sleep age faster.
Children who don’t receive the recommended nine to 11 hours of sleep age faster at a cellular level, according to researchers.
So not only are sleep-deprived kids whiny and crabby, but they could be putting their health at risk.
The study in New Scientist looked at the telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes believed to signal cell aging.
Links to heart disease, cancer
When telomeres get too short, it is thought that cells are no longer able to divide to repair the body. The research didn’t note any medical issues in kids studied who slept less, but short telomeres have been linked to heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
Princeton University researchers Daniel Notterman and Sarah James looked at a database of the average sleep duration of 1,567 kids in the U.S., all age 9. Saliva samples to extract DNA also were taken from each child to examine the length of their telomeres.
Researchers want to see further studies conducted to better gauge long-term effects of insufficient sleep. It’s unknown whether increasing the sleep children get can reverse the effects of telomeres shortening.
How much sleep do kids need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these guidelines.
- Infants 4 to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years should sleep 11 to 14 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children 3 to 5 years should sleep 10 to 13 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children 6 to 12 years should sleep 9 to 12 hours.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years should sleep 8 to 10 hours.
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