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Why not getting enough sleep can be dangerous for children, adults

There's a danger that lurks in the night that might be worse than a nightmare. Sleep deprivation is a problem experts say has reached epidemic proportions, with often devastating effects for children of all ages. Katherine Ashenburg wrote about this for The Walrus Magazine. Listen here.

Katherine Ashenburg wrote about sleep deprivation in The Walrus Magazine

You've heard about the obesity epidemic affecting kids ... we'll talk about a different problem experts say has reached epidemic proportions, with often devastating effects for children of all ages. Sleep deprivation.

There's a danger that lurks in the night that might be worse than a nightmare. Sleep deprivation is a problem experts say has reached epidemic proportions, with often devastating effects for children of all ages. Katherine Ashenburg wrote about this for The Walrus Magazine. Listen to her interview with CBC Hamilton's Conrad Collaco.

Ashenburg says there's a growing body of evidence to suggest that the effects of sleep deprivation can cause children and adults serious and long-term health problems. Listen to her interview on this page.

Ashenburg says 70 per cent of school age children are not getting enough sleep and that number is probably higher for teenagers. The danger, she says, is that a lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiac problems.

In 2013, British researchers found that sleep deprivation affects hundreds of genes involved with inflammation, immunity and cells' response to stress.

The findings might help explain why some people who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cognitive impairment.

Sleep expert Derk-Jan Dijk and colleagues from the University of Surrey took whole-blood RNA samples from 26 participants after they had spent a week sleeping 8.5 hours a night, and the same participants after a week of sleeping for just 5.7 hours.

Genes related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress were all affected by the experiment.

"The identified biological processes may be involved with the negative effects of sleep loss on health," the researchers say.

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