Most parents already know that kids who don't get enough sleep can get cranky. But now there's evidence that shows a lack of sleep can do a lot more than just affect a child's mood.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics followed 5,000 nine- and 10-year-olds and found sleep deprivation could be linked to some serious health issues.

Experts say kids between six and 12 years old should be getting between nine and 12 hours of sleep per night. Younger kids should get even more. The children in the study slept an average of 10 and a half hours a night. But researchers found that for every extra hour of sleep the kids got the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as body mass index, body fat, insulin resistance and glucose levels, all went down.

“It doesn’t prove a direct correlation, but it does suggest a connection. So researchers and parents, frankly, need to be looking at this more closely,” said Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports health editor.

Over the past 15 years, there has been growing evidence that children and adolescents are getting less and less sleep, while type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more common in young people.

Parents can encourage healthy sleeping habits from an early age by:

  • limiting screen time before bed
  • keeping bedtime routines consistent
  • avoiding caffeine – in things like soda and chocolate.

Wondering if your child might be sleep deprived? Some warning signs include falling asleep in the car frequently, having a hard time waking up for school, acting unusually irritable, aggressive or emotional or being easily distracted.