Health Department finds link between lack of sleep and mental health problems among kids and teens

A new study by the New York City Health Department finds a link between inadequate sleep and poor mental health among children and adolescents.

The study found that on an average school night, 75 percent of high school students reported getting fewer than eight hours of sleep, and 11 percent of school children (ages 6 to 12 years) got inadequate sleep (less than nine hours).

A link between less sleep and excessive screen time in school children was observed.

The study of New York City school children and public high school students found lack of sleep was associated with emotional and behavioral problems in children, and depressive symptoms in adolescents.

"New York is well known as the city that doesn't sleep, but for our school children and adolescents, getting adequate sleep is a key part of maintaining emotional and physical wellbeing," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "As the City expands mental health services through ThriveNYC, we ask parents to work with us in making sure our children spend less time on electronic devices and more time on getting a full night's rest."

The city has launched a mental health initiative called ThriveNYC that includes various programs addressing mental health among students.

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines adequate sleep among school children (ages 6 to 12 years) as getting nine to 12 hours of sleep; among adolescents (ages 13 to 18 years), adequate sleep is defined as getting eight to ten hours of sleep.

Excessive time spent on electronic devices was linked to inadequate sleep in school children, but not among adolescents.

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