(HealthDay News) – Historical trends suggest that children’s recommended and actual sleep durations are decreasing over time, with recommended sleep duration consistently greater than actual sleep duration, according to a study published online Feb. 13 in Pediatrics.

Lisa Anne Matricciani, from the University of South Australia in Adelaide, and colleagues reviewed the literature to examine historical trends in recommended and actual sleep durations for children and adolescents. For each recommendation, the actual sleep time was determined from studies reporting sleep duration of children of the same age, gender, and country, in the same years.

The investigators identified 32 sets of recommendations from 1897–2009. The age-specific recommended sleep decreased by an average of −0.71 minute per year. This rate was almost identical to the decrease in actual sleep duration (−0.73 minute per year). Although both recommended and actual sleep durations decreased over time, recommended sleep was consistently approximately 37 minutes greater than actual sleep duration.

“Recommended sleep duration consistently exceeded actual sleep duration by ~37 minutes, in spite of declines in actual sleep duration,” the authors write. “It is remarkable that after more than 100 years, sleep recommendations are still being issued in the acknowledged absence of meaningful evidence.”

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