Adequate sleep is particularly important during childhood and adolescence since inadequate sleep is associated with non-optimal physical and cognitive development. A growing body of evidence suggests that inadequate sleep could be a contributing factor for weight gain and the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. Why are sleep patterns poor for some children? Among the reasons for reduced, poor quality, or variable sleep patterns in children is the increased use and availability of electronic entertainment and communication devices (e.g., cell phones), especially during the late evening, which is reported to delay bedtimes and to be associated with shortened and disturbed sleep in children and adolescents. Additionally, children’s sleep-wake pattern are likely influenced by their parents as observed from associations between parental socioeconomic status and childhood sleep duration.
Physical activity (PA) and diet usually are considered the “Big Two” factors affecting energy balance regulation. However, recent research suggests that sleep may also be an important modifiable lifestyle component that can affect eating and activity behaviors, and ultimately energy balance and body weight regulation, as well as other cardiometabolic risk factors in youth. The current scientific evidence indicates that inadequate sleep may play a role in cardiometabolic risk at a later age for children and adolescents. There is stronger evidence for an association between inadequate sleep and abdominal adiposity, decreased insulin sensitivity as well as high blood pressure. Authors of a recent clinical review suggest that based on the available evidence, children and adolescents get adequate amounts of good sleep in a regular pattern. Simply put, there are well-documented benefits of sleep for overall health.
Though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep need by people at different ages, the table identifies the ‘rule of thumb’ amounts most experts have agreed upon.