TODAY   |  March 03, 2014

New study reveals children’s sleep habits

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, joins TODAY to discuss a new study by the National Sleep Foundation that reveals how kids between ages 6 and 17 are sleeping.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> night? the national sleep foundation out with a survey this morning. and dr. nancy snyderman joins us with the results. nancy, good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> all right. let's take a look at the categories. they asked parents, about 1,000 of them around the country. how much sleep their kids get on a typical night. they found that parents estimate 6 to 10-year-olds sleep 8.9 hours a night, 11 to 12-year-olds sleep 8.2 hours a night and 13 to 14-year-olds are sleeping 7.7 hours a night. depends on your perspective. for me, those would be heavenly numbers, but how do they stack up for kids?

>> the problem is, you and i aren't still growing. kids need good, healthy sleep for their brains to grow and bodies to repair themselves. so those numbers, which i believe are really solid are unfortunately very low. they should be a little higher. if you look at 6 to 10-year-olds, we want them to get 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. by the time kids are teenagers, it can drop about an hour and a half. and then by the time you and i, there are other adults settle into real adulthood, we still have to aim for 7 to 9 hours a night. i think for years, we sort of brushed off sleep as, oh, well, one of those lovely things if you can get it. but we know that people who have good sleep live longer, live better and, in fact, they're healthier because this is the time your body repairs itself.

>> let's talk about something that may seem obvious here. the poll found that nearly 3 out of 4 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 have at least one electronic device in the bedroom at the time they're supposed to be going to bed . so we're talking about things like cell phones and ipads and ipods and computers. what's the problem here?

>> well, if you've ever curled up with your kid to get he or she to sleep, we all have, if you suddenly hear bling bling bling and they have things stuffed under pillows, it's just disruptive. so i think you really have to do a clean sweep of a kid's bedroom and say, okay, we're going to start over. if your computer has to stay in the room for schoolwork, then you have to at least turn off and make sure that screen is not on. that background light is enough to disrupt the brain chemicals. and sorry, kids, all the phones and everything else, ipads, they have to go out of the room. if you look at sort of how you start over. pick a time for kids to go to sleep. and something called sleep hygiene . talk about which electronic is going to stay in the room and why it has to be turned off. make sure the temperature in the child's bedroom is cool enough because hot rooms are usually notoriously bad for sleep. and then, of course, tell kids the music and reading is better off. and then the biggest one, matt, we have to lead by example.

>> yeah, no question. by the way, not just that the kids are using the devices at bedtime. once they use them, they're mentally stimulated and makes it harder for them to fall asleep.

>> it's terrible. in fact, one hour before your child goes to sleep, stop all the electronic stuff because your brain keeps going even after you turn the off button off.

>> nancy, as always, thank you very much.