Children who lack sleep can suffer from detrim


image: Images show differences in gray matter volume (red areas) between children who sleep adequately and those who do not get enough sleep at the start of the study and at a two-year follow-up visit. Areas highlighted in red are structures responsible for decision making, impulse control, memory and mood regulation.
see After

Credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). These differences were correlated with greater mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and impulsive behaviors, in those who were sleep deprived. Insufficient sleep was also linked to cognitive difficulties with memory, problem solving and decision making. The results were published today in the journal Lancet Child and adolescent health.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children ages 6 to 12 get 9 to 12 hours of sleep on a regular basis to promote optimal health. So far, no study has looked at the long-term impact of a lack of sleep on the neurocognitive development of preteens.

To conduct the study, researchers looked at data collected from more than 8,300 children between the ages of 9 and 10 enrolled in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. They reviewed MRI images, medical records and surveys completed by participants and their parents at enrollment and at a two-year follow-up visit at age 11 to 12. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the ABCD study is the largest long-term study of children’s brain development and health in the United States.

“We found that children who had insufficient sleep, less than nine hours a night, at the start of the study had less gray matter or smaller volume in certain areas of the brain responsible for attention, memory and control of inhibition compared to those who had healthy sleep. habits,” said the study’s corresponding author. Ze Wang, PhD, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at UMSOM. “These differences persisted after two years, a concerning finding that suggests long-term harm for those who don’t get enough sleep.”

It is one of the first findings to demonstrate the potential long-term impact of sleep deprivation on neurocognitive development in children. It also provides substantial support for current sleep recommendations for children, according to Dr. Wang and colleagues.

In follow-up assessments, the research team found that participants in the adequate sleep group tended to get progressively less sleep over two years, which is normal as children move into adolescence, while Sleep patterns of participants in the insufficient sleep group did not change. a lot. Researchers controlled for socioeconomic status, gender, puberty status and other factors that could impact how long a child sleeps and affect brain and cognition.

“We tried to match the two groups as closely as possible to help us better understand the long-term impact of poor sleep on preadolescent brains,” Dr. Wang said. “Further studies are needed to confirm our finding and to see if interventions can improve sleep patterns 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 daytime physical activity, limiting screen time, and completely eliminating screens an hour before bedtime. to sleep.

The study was funded by the NIH. Fan Nils Yang, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Wang’s lab is a co-author of the study. Weizhen Xie, PhD, a researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is also a co-author on the study. UMSOM faculty members Thomas Ernst, PhDand Linda Chang, MD, MSare co-principal investigators of the ABCD study on the Baltimore site but did not participate in the data analysis of this new study.

“This is a pivotal study that underscores the importance of doing long-term studies of childhood brain development,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president for medical affairs, UM Baltimore, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Professor Emeritus and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Sleep can often be neglected during busy childhood days filled with homework and extracurricular activities. We are now seeing how detrimental this can be to a child’s development.”

About University of Maryland Medical School

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was incorporated in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today to be one of the world’s fastest growing leading biomedical research enterprises – with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a two-time distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.3 billion, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide intensive research, academic, and clinical care to nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments ranking highly among all medical schools in the nation for research funding. As one of seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents and fellows. The combined medical school and medical system (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of more than $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks first 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the last US News and World Report ranking of best medical schools, released in 2021, UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the United States and in the richest 15% (#27) out of 192 public and private American medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of press releases posted on EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


About Author

Comments are closed.