Science

Consequences of sleep deprivation in children – Science et Avenir

We know about the benefits of regular and long enough sleep in babies: strengthening memory, growth, development of creativity … But this time, a recent study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health studied the long-term effects of lack of sleep in children. It identifies cognitive difficulties (memory, problem solving and decision making), mental problems and gray matter deficiency in certain areas of the brain.

This study was conducted on over 8,000 children.

This is one of the first large-scale studies of the effects of poor sleep in the youngest, in a cohort of more than 8,300 children aged 9 to 10, over a period of two years. They were divided into 2 groups. One included all those who slept an average of 9 hours a day or more, and the other included children who slept less than 9 hours. The sleep threshold of 9 hours a night is indeed considered the minimum required for optimal health in children ages 6 to 12, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The researchers rely on another animal study published in Frontiers to support their hypothesis: “Lack of sleep may have long-term negative effects on participants’ neurocognitive development.” To evaluate this influence, the University of Maryland School of Medicine looked at various factors in each of the children: their possible behavioral problems, their cognitive difficulties, their mental health… They even took measurements of their brain, both its structure and functional connections. To this end, researchers are using MRI scans, medical records, and interviews with families to ascertain the effects of too short nights in toddlers.

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