Minority boys appear to get the least amount of sleep among 8- to 11-year-old children

October 04, 2004

CHICAGO - Among children eight to eleven years old, minority boys get the least amount of sleep, according to an article in the October issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, 11 percent to 12 percent of elementary school-aged children experience daytime sleepiness and 18 percent to 21 percent are fatigued during the school day. Sleepiness may impair academic performance, and lead to increased aggression and other behavioral problems, the article states.

James C. Spilsbury, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and colleagues investigated sleep behavior among 755 elementary school-aged children eight to 11 years old (50 percent female). The children completed a seven-day sleep journal and answered questionnaires about their general health. Child caregivers completed health/sleep questionnaires about their children as well. The authors examined sleep duration by the children's age, sex, and ethnicity, classified as nonminority (white), or minority (African-American, Asian, Native-American, Hispanic or biracial). Thirty-five percent (267 children) of the sample were categorized as being of minority ethnicity, 88 percent of whom were African-American.

The researchers found that the average sleep duration for all children was 9.63 hours. There was a statistically significant decrease in amount of sleep with increased age and male sex. Minority boys slept significantly less than non-minority boys and minority and non-minority girls, and the shortest average sleep duration was in the oldest minority boys studied (9.28 hours vs. 9.43-9.85 hours for other age, sex and minority groups).

The researchers also found that 43 percent of 10- to 11-year-old minority boys reported less than the nine recommended hours of nightly sleep vs. 5 percent to 26 percent of children in other age, sex and minority groups. Minority children were also almost four times as likely to have a bedtime later than 11 p.m.

"Use of self-completed pediatric seven-day sleep journals provided average estimates for sleep duration consistent with current national recommendations for school-aged children," write the authors.

"However, overall, 16 percent of children reported sleeping less than the recommended nine hours, including 43 percent of older minority boys. Across the age range of eight to 11 years, significant decreases in sleep time, and, in ethnic minorities, increasingly delayed bedtimes, were observed, suggesting the emergence of sleep restriction patterns in preadolescents," the researchers write.
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(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:988-994. Available post-embargo at archinternmed.com)

Editor's Note: This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

For more information, contact JAMA/Archives Media Relations at 312-464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail mediarelations@jama-archives.org.

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