Why does lack of sleep affect children’s memory and mental health?
The new study was led by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). The findings were published today in the journal
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years old sleep 9 to 12 hours at night regularly to promote optimal health. To date, no studies have examined the long-term effects of insufficient sleep on adolescent neurocognitive development.
Sleep deprivation and its effects on gray matter and neurocognitive development in children
To conduct the study, the researchers examined data collected from more than 8,300 children ages 9 to 10 participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. They examined MRI images, medical records, and surveys completed by the participants and their parents at the time of enrollment and during a two-year follow-up visit at 11 to 12 years of age.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the ABCD study is the largest longitudinal study of brain development and child health in the United States.
“We found that children who didn’t get enough sleep, less than nine hours a night, at the start of the study had less gray matter or less volume in certain brain regions responsible for attention control. , memory and inhibition compared with children with healthy sleep, said study author Ze Wang, Ph.D., Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at UMSOM. This difference persisted after two years, a related finding that suggests long-term harm for people who don’t get enough sleep.”
This is one of the first findings to demonstrate the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on neurocognitive development in children. It also provides substantial support for current recommendations on sleep in children, according to Dr. Wang and his colleagues.
In follow-up assessments, the team found that participants in the adequate sleep group tended to gradually sleep less over the course of two years, which is normal as children enter their teens, while The sleep patterns of the participants in the sleep group did not. change too much. The researchers controlled for socioeconomic status, gender, pubertal status, and other factors that may affect children’s sleep time as well as brain and cognitive effects.
“We tried to combine the two groups as closely as possible to help us fully understand the long-term effects of too little sleep on the preadolescent brain,” said Dr. Wang. “Additional studies are needed to confirm our findings and see if any of these interventions can improve sleep habits and reverse neurological deficits.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to promote good sleep habits in their children. Their tips include making getting enough sleep a family priority, sticking to a regular sleep routine, encouraging physical activity during the day, limiting screen time, and eliminating screens altogether. picture an hour before going to bed.
The study was funded by the NIH. PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Wang’s lab, is a study co-author. Weizhen Xie, PhD, a researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is also a co-author of the study. PhD, UMSOM faculty members, and Linda Chang, MD, MS, are co-investigators of the ABCD study at the Baltimore site but were not involved in the data analysis of this new study.
E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, School of Medicine University of Maryland. “Sleep can often be overlooked during busy childhood days with homework and extracurricular activities. We now see how that can be detrimental to a child’s development. young.”