Study: Kids Need More Sleep

Study: Kids Need More Sleep

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Kim Johnson ReportingIt's hardly breaking news that our fast-paced society has created a nation of sleep-deprived adults. But now, a new comprehensive study says even our kids are suffering from lack of sleep.

The National Sleep foundation poll is the first to look at the sleep habits of children, and the results don't surprise sleep specialists, who say they've seen a steady increase in the number of kids with bad sleep habits and problems.

16-year old Spencer Eberhardt would like nothing more than to be able to fall asleep easily, and stay asleep all night.

Spencer Eberhardt, Sleep Patient: "Because I would have energy to do stuff that I need to do, and sometimes I just don't feel like getting up and going to school."

Spencer is just one of a growing number of kids seeking help at Primary Children's sleep clinic. While their sleep problems may vary, sleep specialists say 75 percent of them have one common problem--they don't get enough shut-eye.

Kathleen Pfeffer, M.D., Sleep Specialist, Primary Children's Med. Ctr.: “I think it’s our lifestyle. And to a certain extent, I think it’s parents don’t realize how important sleep is.”

Dr. Pfeffer says kids are too busy, drink too much caffeine, and over-stimulate themselves just before bedtime.

Kathleen Pfeffer, M.D: "Watching TV to fall asleep has already been shown to disrupt sleep. So you can imagine the impact of surfing the internet with a lot of visual, and auditory stimulation in addition with the video games."

Reading to children, conversely, creates the calm that leads to sleep. And Dr. Pfeffer says sleep is critical. In deep sleep the brain shuts down, the body relaxes and restores itself for the next day.

Kathleen Pfeffer, M.D: "When you're in dream sleep the brain is doing all sorts of important things for cognition and intellectual development for the next day. So if you're missing out on either one or both of those, you're compromised."

Kids who don't sleep enough don't do as well as their well-rested counterparts. And there are other consequences.

Kathleen Pfeffer, M.D: "The worst scenario would be that with not getting enough sleep, we're going to have more irritable, unhappy, depressed or anxious people."

All this takes a huge toll on parents. Here's some advice from the experts:
-No caffeinated drinks after noon.
-Don't let them fall asleep in front of the TV
-Don't let your kids have TVs and computers in their bedrooms.
-Don't let kids sleep in your bed.
-Don't be afraid to set firm limits on bedtime.

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