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Lack of sleep in children can have long-lasting negative effects on their brain and cognitive development

This is one of the first studies to show the possible long-term effects of sleep deprivation on young children's neurocognitive development. 

To preserve optimal health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises children aged 6 to 12 to sleep 9 to 12 hours per night on a regular basis.

The long-term effects of inadequate sleep on pre-teens’ neurocognitive development have not yet been studied.

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study included more than 8,300 kids between the ages of 9 and 10 who provided the researchers with data. They looked at MRI scans, medical records, and surveys that participants and their parents had filled out at the time of enrollment and during a two-year follow-up visit when they were between the ages of 11 and 12.

Dr. Wang, Ph.D., Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at UMSOM, and his colleagues say that it also offers strong support for the current guidelines on child sleep.

In subsequent evaluations, the research team discovered that participants in the sufficient sleep group tended to gradually sleep less over the course of two years, which is typical as kids enter adolescence, whereas participants in the insufficient sleep group’s sleep patterns did not significantly change.

The amount of sleep a child gets and how it affects their brain and cognition were characteristics that the researchers accounted for, along with sex, socioeconomic background, and whether or not they were in puberty.

“We tried to match the two groups as closely as possible to help us more fully understand the long-term impact of too little sleep on the pre-adolescent brain,” Dr. Wang said. “Additional studies are needed to confirm our finding and to see whether any interventions can improve sleep habits and reverse the neurological deficits.”

Parents are encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics to instil in their kids healthy sleeping habits. They advise families to prioritise getting enough sleep, to maintain a regular sleep schedule, to encourage physical activity throughout the day, to limit screen time, and to avoid using screens an hour before bed.

Lack of sleep in children can have long-lasting negative effects on their brain and cognitive development

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