We, adults, are all too familiar with what it's like to not get enough sleep and feel groggy all day at work. In fact, sometimes even basic chores can become a task if you're sleep-deprived. So, imagine what it must be like for children when they don't get enough sleep. We ourselves begin to suffer from short term symptoms of sleep deprivation like fatigue, irritability and mood swings and these symptoms become even worse in kids.
A new study has found that while the short term effects of sleep deprivation are bad, the long-term effects can be even worse for children. It can severely affect their mental health. For the study, researchers looked at nearly 11,000 children aged 9-11 and examined the relationship between sleep deprivation and their brain structure. What they found was appalling.
It turned out that kids with sleep deprivation had reduced brain volumes in regions like orbitofrontal cortex, prefrontal and temporal cortex, precuneus, and supramarginal gyrus. What's wrong with this, you ask? Reduced brain volume in these areas can be linked to several mental health issues like depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour and poor cognitive performance.
Author Professor Jianfeng Feng also commented on this and said, "The recommended amount of sleep for children 6 to 12 years of age is 9-12 hours. However, sleep disturbances are common among children and adolescents around the world due to the increasing demand on their time from school, increased screen time use, and sports and social activities.”
Professor Edmund Rolls who also authored the study, commented, "These are important associations that have been identified between sleep duration in children, brain structure, and cognitive and mental health measures, but further research is needed to discover the underlying reasons for these relationships."
Well, this goes to show just how important it is to help your children follow a proper sleep schedule. Stay tuned for more updates.