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American kids aren't getting enough sleep and it's affecting their success at school, scientists warn

Around 30 percent of children in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep, according to scientists warning of a “public health crisis.”

U.S. research found only 63.6 percent of six- to 12-year-olds and 68.1 percent of those aged between 13 and 17 were getting enough sleep on a weeknight. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six- to 12-year-olds get at least nine hours on an average weeknight, while 13- to 17-year-olds should aim for at least eight.

The team looked at answers from 49,050 parents of young people aged between six and 17 years old, who took part in the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children’s Health. The parents detailed how much their child slept.

The survey also measured what are known as flourishing markers, such as whether the child was curious about new things; if they did all their homework; cared about doing well at school; were committed to finishing tasks; and stayed calm and in control while faced with a challenge.

The under-12s who didn’t have enough sleep were less likely to be curious about learning, care about school, do their homework and finish tasks. Those in the older category had similar problems, but were also less likely to stay calm when encountering a challenge.

The authors wrote: “Chronic sleep loss amongst youth is a major public health crisis globally and is associated with a multitude of physical and mental health issues.”

They went on to state: “This study demonstrates that insufficient sleep is associated with decreased childhood flourishing, which could have a critical role on the physical and mental health, school performance and well-being of children.”

The study is due to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 National Conference and Exhibition, and has therefore not been peer-reviewed.

Dr. Hoi See Tsao, a paediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital who co-authored the study, told Newsweek: “This research reinforces the importance of increasing efforts to maximize sleep sufficiency for children including addressing digital media usage, bedtime routines and school duration and start times….[ ]

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