Systematic review of the relationships between sleep duration and health indicators in school-aged children and youth

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Jun;41(6 Suppl 3):S266-82. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0627.


The objective of this systematic review was to examine the relationships between objectively and subjectively measured sleep duration and various health indicators in children and youth aged 5-17 years. Online databases were searched in January 2015 with no date or study design limits. Included studies were peer-reviewed and met the a priori-determined population (apparently healthy children and youth aged 5-17 years), intervention/exposure/comparator (various sleep durations), and outcome (adiposity, emotional regulation, cognition/academic achievement, quality of life/well-being, harms/injuries, and cardiometabolic biomarkers) criteria. Because of high levels of heterogeneity across studies, narrative syntheses were employed. A total of 141 articles (110 unique samples), including 592 215 unique participants from 40 different countries, met inclusion criteria. Overall, longer sleep duration was associated with lower adiposity indicators, better emotional regulation, better academic achievement, and better quality of life/well-being. The evidence was mixed and/or limited for the association between sleep duration and cognition, harms/injuries, and cardiometabolic biomarkers. The quality of evidence ranged from very low to high across study designs and health indicators. In conclusion, we confirmed previous investigations showing that shorter sleep duration is associated with adverse physical and mental health outcomes. However, the available evidence relies heavily on cross-sectional studies using self-reported sleep. To better inform contemporary sleep recommendations, there is a need for sleep restriction/extension interventions that examine the changes in different outcome measures against various amounts of objectively measured sleep to have a better sense of dose-response relationships.

Keywords: academic achievement; adiposity; adiposité; bien-être; blessures; body weight; cognition; contrôle des émotions; durée du sommeil; emotional regulation; injuries; masse corporelle; mental health; quality of life; qualité de vie; rendement scolaire; santé mentale; sleep duration; well-being.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers