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Science Says Kids Who Don't Get Enough Sleep May Age Faster

New research offers yet another reason to make healthy sleep a priority in your house: It may help your kids live longer.

What Can Happen If Your Kids Don't Get Enough Sleep

Hooray! A new study reveals more evidence that getting kids to sleep long enough at night benefits their long-term health. As if you needed another reason to insist on an early bedtime for your brood (hello, after-bedtime glass of wine)!

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, looked at more than 1,500 9-year-old kids born between 1998 and 2000. And what researchers found is kinda fascinating: Little ones who sleep less actually age faster at a cellular level.

Here's the science behind the study: Kids who get less sleep have shorter telomeres, which are the end caps of chromosomes. Shorter telomeres equal an older cellular age. Specifically, researchers found that for each hour less a child slept at night, they had a 1.5 percent shorter telomere length.

Baby and Children Sleep Chart

Researchers note in the study, "This finding is consistent with a broader literature indicating that suboptimal sleep duration is a risk for increased physiological stress and impaired health." In other words, sleeping less at night could potentially put kids at risk for developing a host of health issues later in life, from heart disease, to cancer, to mental health issues. And we already know that getting a good night's sleep is key in helping kiddos with their mental concentration, not to mention more Zzz's mean less tantrums and behavior problems.

Of course, getting kids to bed at night can be easier said than done. But this research simply underscores that when it comes to sleep, parents know best, and it is definitely worth making a good night's sleep a priority for every member of the family (yes, even during the summertime!).

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger/mom. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.