Sleeping Less Than Nine Hours Could Affect Kids’ Memory and Mental Health

Elementary school-age kids who sleep less than the recommended number of hours per night exhibit differences in brain regions associated with memory, intelligence and well-being, according to a recent study.

For the study published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, researchers from the University of Maryland examined MRI images and medical records of more than 8,300 children aged 9 to 10, as well as surveys completed by the participants and their parents.

The team linked lack of sleep to mental health issues like depression and anxiety and to memory issues, including problem solving and decision making.

Researchers accounted for socioeconomic status, gender, puberty status and other factors that could affect a child’s sleep habits and brain function.

Follow up evaluations showed that the sleep habits of the group who did not meet the recommended nine to 12 hours per night did not change significantly over two years.

“We found that children who had insufficient sleep, less than nine hours per night, at the beginning of the study had less grey matter or smaller volume in certain areas of the brain responsible for attention, memory, and inhibition control, compared to those with healthy sleep habits,” the study’s corresponding author Ze Wang, said in a news release.

“These differences persisted after two years, a concerning finding that suggests long-term harm for those who do not get enough sleep,” he continued.

Parents can help their children reach this sleep goal by limiting technology use close to bedtime and establishing a consistent sleep schedule.

Excerpted from “Sleeping Less Than Nine Hours Could Affect Kids’ Memory and Mental Health” in The Hill. Read the full article online.  For more information, see the news release on this study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Source: The Hill | Sleeping Less Than Nine Hours Could Affect Kids’ Memory and Mental Health, | © 1998 – 2022 Nexstar Inc.
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