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Sleep Recommendations For Children Remain Unchanged: But Do They Matter?
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Sleep Recommendations for Children Remain Unchanged: But Do They Matter?

Parents and doctors have offered sleep recommendations to their children since the 1800's, but do they really matter? Did they even matter back then? According to a new study by researchers at the University of South Australia at Adelaide, there has been a gap of recommendations and actual sleep hours since that time, by at least thirty minutes or more. Lisa Anne Matricciani, the lead author of the study which is being published in the Journal Pediatrics, says that while there is plenty of evidence of these sleep recommendations, there has never been a concrete, definitive study that proves that there really is a set number of sleep need.

The researchers agreed that there have always been reasons that the children were not getting the sleep that was recommended and that those reasons have changed as modern life changed. From the invention and wider spread usage of the electric light bulb to the radio and then to video games, cell phones and social media, children are not only getting enough stimulation that they may not be able to sleep at the end of the day and it may keep them up for later hours to keep up with those things.

Matricciani and the research team looked at the collected data from studies that dated back to the late 1800's to 2009, finding more than thirty sets of sleep recommendations for children by specific age group. In addition, there were well over two hundred articles which all discussed how much sleep children should get as well as the truth about how much they were really getting. The recommendations have changed, with the typical number going down over the years, however, as that number has changed so has the number of hours that the children are sleeping.

Doctors often say that people should sleep seven to ten hours per night. However, there is no universal recommendation for any age group- teens may need at least ten to function while a young adult may do well with less than eight. Instead, the experts suggest that monitoring behavior, personality and performance of your child to determine if they do actually need more sleep. Signs of sleep deprivation in children can range from acting silly to full tantrums. Consistently lack of sleep can cause children to do poorly at school because it can disrupt their memory forming process, their concentration and their reasoning skills. Those same symptoms are echoed in adults who fail to get enough sleep as well.


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