For optimal health, kids and teenagers should get as much sleep as they can, a new consensus suggests.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), for the first time, arrived on an agreement on the amount of sleep necessary to maintain overall well-being and health of children and teenagers.

"Sleep is essential for a healthy life, and it is important to promote healthy sleep habits in early childhood," said AASM fellow and Pediatric Consensus Panel moderator Dr. Shalini Paruthi. "It is especially important as children reach adolescence to continue to ensure that teens are able to get sufficient sleep."

The Pediatric Consensus Panel included 13 sleep experts recommended by the American Association of Sleep Technologists, American Academy of Pediatrics and Sleep Research Society. For 10 months, the panel looked at 864 peer-reviewed scientific studies focused on children's health and duration of sleep. They analyzed the evidence and used a formal grading system to come up with the final recommendations.

After several rounds of voting, the panel arrived at the following recommendations of sleep duration by age:

Babies four to 12 months should have about 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) of sleep daily.

Toddlers one year old to two years old should have as much as 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) of sleep daily.

Kids three years old to five years old should have up to 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) of sleep daily.

Children six years old to 12 years old should have nine to 12 hours per 24 hours of sleep daily.

Teenagers 13 years old to 18 years old should have at least eight to 10 hours per 24 hours of sleep daily.

The panel of experts have found that the recommended amount of sleep greatly improves behavior, attention, memory, learning, emotional regulation, physical and mental health and overall quality of life. Kids who do not have ample sleep hours tend to have poor learning abilities and disruptive behavior. There is also an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, accidents and injuries. Teenagers who get fewer than the recommended hours have higher tendency toward suicidal thoughts, self-harm and suicide attempts.

AASM president Nathaniel Watson said that about a third of the U.S. population are not having the recommended hours of sleep each day. Sleep is very important, particularly for kids in their early years of development.

"Making sure there is ample time for sleep is one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for a child," said Watson.

An earlier study has found that adults who often work on shifts have disrupted circadian rhythms and are at higher risk of developing heart diseases later on in life.

The sleep recommendation consensus is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and will be part of the 2016 SLEEP meeting in Denver.

Photo: Lars Plougmann | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.