More Sleep: The Key to Better Mood and Behavior in Children

imagesA new study finds that kids are more likely to be alert and less likely to be disruptive if they added an extra 27 minutes to their nightly sleep schedules for 5 consecutive nights.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, past research has suggested that lack of sleep can cause mood swings, behavioral problems like hyperactivity and cognitive problems.

The new study looked at 34 kids between the ages of 7 to 11 who had no sleep, medical, behavior or academic problems who averaged about nine hours of sleep a night. Half the children had their bedtimes moved up one hour and the other children had their bedtimes moved back an hour for five nights. The children wore actigraphs to record their sleep times.

The kids who had their bedtimes moved up an hour slept on average an additional 27.36 minutes longer per night. In comparison, the children who got to sleep an hour later, got about 54.04 less minutes of sleep each night.

Teachers were then asked to record the children’s behavior — including impulsivity, restlessness and emotional ability — and daytime sleepiness was also measured.

The children who were allowed to sleep more were found to be more alert, better behaved and more empathetic. Those with less sleep were determined to be less alert.

The study was published online on Oct. 15 in Pediatrics and will be in the November 2012 issue.

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