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Asian Kids Have Later Bedtimes, Less Total Sleep

Cross-culture study finds vast differences in habits, parents' perceptions of problems

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to children in predominantly Asian countries, kids in predominantly Caucasian countries get more sleep overall, have earlier bedtimes, and are less likely to share a room with young children, a new study says.

Researcher Jodi Mindell of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia examined sleep questionnaires filled out by the parents of 28,287 infants and toddlers in the United States (4,505), the United Kingdom (800), Australia (1,073), New Zealand (1,081), Canada (501), Hong Kong (1,049), Korea (1,036), Taiwan (896), Thailand (988), Indonesia (967), Japan (872), China (7,505), India (3,892), Malaysia (997), the Philippines (1,034), and Singapore (1,001).

Mindell found significant variability in bedtimes, total sleep time and in other areas. For example, 15.1 percent of children in Canada shared a room, compared to 94.5 percent in Thailand. The percentage of parents who believed their child had a minor or severe sleep problem ranged from 11 percent in Thailand to 76 percent in China.

While children in Asian countries were more likely to have later bedtimes, shorter total sleep times, increased parental perception of sleep problems, and were more likely to share a room than children in caucasian countries, there were no clinically significant differences in night wakings and naps.

"This study is the first one to ever look at sleep in infants and toddlers cross-culturally, and the results are astonishing," Mindell said.

"We found vast differences in amounts of sleep and parents' perceptions of sleep problems across countries. These results raise more questions than provide answers. For example, 'Are these differences simply the result of differing cultural practices?' and, 'What is the impact, if any, of these vast differences?' "

The study was presented June 11 at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about children and sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 11, 2008

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