The Impact of Mild Sleep Deprivation on the Quality of Life in Children

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As little as 39 minutes less sleep per night for 1 week can have an impact on the quality of life of children.

Even mild sleep deprivation can significantly reduce health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in healthy children. As little as 39 minutes less sleep per night for 1 week can have an impact, according to a new study.

Rachel Taylor, PhD, and a team of investigators aimed at determining the effect of induced mild sleep deprivation on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in healthy children. Results showed that during the week of restricted sleep, children went to sleep 64 minutes later and subsequently woke up 18 minutes later when compared with sleep and wake times throughout the extension week.

Investigators stated that these findings emphasize the importance of ensuring children receive sufficient good-quality sleep for their overall health and well-being.

Less Sleep, Significant Impact

Both parents and children reported significantly less sleep disturbance at night but greater sleep impairment during the day throughout the week of sleep restriction. Additionally, children reported significant reductions in physical well-being, coping in a school environment, social and peer support, and total HRQOL score during sleep restriction.

Overall, the participants' baseline characteristics exhibited good sleep hygiene practices and that the they generally received a healthy amount of sleep. Specifically, the children had a mean total sleep time of 8 hours and 59 minutes per night with a standard deviation of 45 minutes.

They also had a high level of sleep efficiency, with a mean of 95.8%, indicating that the children were able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night with very few awakenings. On average, the children woke up less than once a night with a mean of 0.71 awakenings.

Good sleep hygience included behaviors such as going to bed and waking up at consistent times, avoiding caffeine and stimulating activities before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleep environment. Evidence of this was supported by their scores on the Children's Sleep Hygiene Scale. The mean scores for all subscales of the scale were greater than 4, with 6 as the possible maximum.

Intervention: Restricted and Extended Sleep

The intervention consisted of alternating weeks of sleep restriction and sleep extension, with a 1-week washout in between. Investigators manipulated bedtimes to be 1 hour later (sleep restriction) and 1 hour earlier (sleep extension) than usual for 1 week each, while wake times remained unchanged.

The study was a secondary analysis of Daily Rest, Eating, and Activity Monitoring (DREAM) randomized crossover trial and was conducted from October 2018-March 2020 in New Zealand. The population included 100 children aged 8-12 years, with no underlying medical conditions and normal sleep patterns of 8-11 hours/night, as reported by their parents or guardians.

Assessments for all outcome measures ocurred during both intervention weeks, including sleep timing and duration (measured using 7-night actigraphy), sleep disturbances, sleep-related impairment, and HRQOL (assessed using the 27-item KIDSCREEN questionnaire with 5 subscale scores and a total score).

Investigators wrote that these findings may serve as a useful baseline for understanding the effects of induced mild sleep deprivation on the health-related quality of life of children.

"We showed that after only 1 week of receiving 39 minutes less sleep per night between sleep conditions, children reported significantly lower HRQOL in terms of their physical and overall well-being and ability to cope well at school," they wrote. "These findings highlight that ensuring children receive sufficient good-quality sleep is an important child health issue."


  1. Taylor RW, Haszard JJ, Jackson R, et al. Effect of Sleep Changes on Health-Related Quality of Life in Healthy Children: A Secondary Analysis of the DREAM Crossover Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(3):e233005. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.3005