Children Not Getting Enough Sleep
Associated Press - March 30, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - Children are sleeping less than experts recommend and many parents are not happy about it, according to a survey of American households by the National Sleep Foundation.

The foundation, an independent organization that supports sleep education, announced Tuesday that its annual survey found that children, from newborns to fifth-graders, are getting one to two hours less sleep every 24 hours than is recommended.

The survey found that infants, age 3 to 11 months, were getting about 12.7 hours of sleep daily, while experts suggest 14 to 15 hours.

For toddlers, age 12 to 35 months, the poll found that the average child slept 11.7 hours, while 12 to 14 hours is the recommended amount of daily sleep.

Daily sleep averaged about 10.4 hours for preschoolers and 6-year-olds in kindergarten, the survey found. Experts recommend 11 to 13 hours of sleep for this age group.

Children in the first through fifth grades average about 9.5 hours of sleep daily, the survey found. Experts say the appropriate amount of sleep for this group is 10 to 11 hours.

``Our new poll finds that many children are not sleeping enough and many experience sleep problems,'' Richard L. Gelula, the foundation chief executive officer, said in a statement. ``What is troublesome is that the problems start in infancy.''

About 69 percent of the children in the households surveyed were said to experience sleep problems a few nights a week. Common problems included difficulty falling asleep, sleepwalking, snoring, resisting going to bed and breathing difficulties.

The poll found that about 75 percent of those polled would change something about their children's sleep habits if they could.

The poll also found that the parents or caregivers of children are also getting less than the ideal amount of sleep. Among those polled, the average for parents and caregivers was 6.8 hours per night, slightly less than the seven hours that the foundation found in a 2002 poll of adults. Most parents said they need eight to nine hours of sleep a night.

Parents and caregivers in households where children got the least amount of sleep were about twice as likely to sleep less than six hours a night themselves, the poll found. About 30 percent of this adult group also reported insomnia a few nights a week, and half of those polled said their sleep problems increased after children came into the household.

The poll results are based on telephone interviews of 1,473 adults selected randomly and who were the primary caregiver or shared equally in the care of a child age 10 or younger. The sleep history of the children was based on the recall of those polled. The margin of error for the poll, generally, was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points, although in some categories and with some responses or totals, the error rate could go as high as 6.8 percentage points, the foundation said in a statement.

More Information: National Sleep Foundation