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Teens Need More Dreatime

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« on: December 17, 2008, 10:32:42 am »
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Children need more sleep: study
By Dani Cooper for ABC Science Online

Posted Thu Oct 2, 2008 9:19am AEST

Researchers say Australian parents may need help in setting bedtime rules for children. (File photo) (Getty Images: Peter Macdiarmid)

Bob Geldof was right - we don't like Mondays - and Australian researchers believe they have found the reason why.

The biggest study of Australian children's sleep patterns has found most teenagers start the week with a sleep deficit that gets bigger as the week progresses.

Professor Tim Olds, from the University of South Australia, is presenting his research at this week's Australasian Sleep Association Conference.

Professor Olds believes Australian parents may need help in setting bedtime rules for their children.

He says the study looked at the association between sleep and factors such as age, sex and household income, type of day, and weight.

It included 4,033 children aged nine to 18 years, who reported the time they fell asleep and woke over a combined total of 9,053 individual nights.

Days were categorised into four types, including bed on a non-school day and wake on a school day (NS-S), bed on a school day and wake on a school day, bed on school day and wake on a non-school day, bed on a non-school day and wake on a non-school day (NS-NS).

He says the participants reported their activities in time slices as fine as five minutes.

Professor Olds says the study found that adolescents sleep least on the Sunday to Monday night (NS-S) at 553 minutes, and most on non-school-non-school nights (Saturdays and holidays) at 603 minutes.

Starting on empty

The survey found that older children woke up five to six minutes later than average on Monday and were already in deficit with the time they needed to sleep.

"We go to bed late on a Friday and Saturday and don't want to leave the weekend behind [by going to bed late on a Sunday]," Professor said.

He says this means adolescents are starting the week in sleep deficit.

"We suspect it has bad consequences," he said, pointing to studies that show sleep deprivation is associated with impaired immune function and psychological problems such as memory and attention deficits.

Professor Olds says the "norm" for sleep time decreases as children grow up.

On average, nine-year-olds sleep between 10 and 10.5 hours per night.

This decreases by about nine minutes per night with each year of age, until they reach the age of 18 years.

But Professor Olds says the decrease in sleep time was greater on school-school (S-S) and non-school to school (NS-S) nights averaging 15-16 minutes per night per year.

He says this suggests the older teenagers are staying up later, but still having to wake at the same time for school.

They do not make up for the sleep lost until Saturday night.

"There is a lot of evidence that children are sleep deprived during the school week," he said.

Parental guidelines

However he says a Korean study showed the difference between school and non-school nights was even more extreme.

During the school week, schooling pressures meant an average Korean 18-year-old slept a mere 4.5 hours' night.

However on non-school nights they slept more than half the day averaging 13.5 hours' sleep.

The study also found that children from higher socio-economic households sleep more, a trend Professor Olds says may be connected to a household's ability to enforce rules and regulations.

As part of the study he says they revisited a number of schools that had participated in a 1985 study and asked the same aged children to report their sleep times.

They found on average Australian children are sleeping 30 minutes less than their peers did in 1985.

"It's entirely down to a later bed time," he said.

He says the findings should be used to issue guidelines to parents on recommended sleep times.

"We need to give parents an idea about how much sleep is reasonable," he said.

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