Sleep is essential children’s health and educational attainment, and too little in later life is associated with negative health outcomes, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The team studied 111 healthy children and adolescents from eight European countries – Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary and Sweden.
Based on self-reporting, the children were classed as short sleepers if they got less than nine hours sleep at night and adolescents fewer than eight hours.
The researchers found that by analysing levels of RNA they could tell which children were poor sleepers.
Based on their findings, the researchers believe a blood test to assess sleep quality “could provide a more reliable metric” than self-reporting.
“It is conceivable that in a near future a simple screening test will be available,” added Dr Laura.
The research is published in the journal Experimental Physiology.