PhotoAdequate amounts of slumber can keep kids feeling chipper throughout the day and aid in the healthy development of their minds and bodies. Good sleep habits may even fight against emotional problems in adulthood, researchers say.

Kids who regularly miss out on a good night’s sleep may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, or other types or emotional disorders as adults, a new study from the University of Houston suggests.

Lead author Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston, calls healthy sleep “critical for children’s psychological well-being” and says continued inadequate sleep during childhood may have repercussions later in life.

More negative emotions

To study the effects of sleep deprivation on children's emotional state, Alfano and her team temporarily restricted sleep in 50 children.

Kids who didn’t clock the requisite forty winks experienced more negative emotions. What’s more, sleep deprived kids found less enjoyment in things that would normally be considered positive.

Childhood, researchers say, is the golden window of time when sleep and emotion regulatory systems are developing. It's a critical window of opportunity for sleep interventions, says Alfano.

"Parents, therefore, need to think about sleep as an essential component of overall health in the same way they do nutrition, dental hygiene and physical activity," Albano told the Daily Mail, adding that parents should watch for signs of inadequate sleep, which may include trouble waking up in the morning or sleepiness during the day.

How much sleep?

Exactly how much sleep should your child be getting? As we've reported, it depends on his or her age.

New sleep guidelines backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that kids should be getting the following amount of sleep in each age bracket:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
  • Children 6 to 12 years:  9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
  • Teens 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

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