Mental Health in Children is Impacted by Sleep Duration

Lack of sleep can make adults cranky and irritable, but among children, the impacts are more severe.  According to new research, depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and poor cognitive performance in children are all effected by the amount of sleep they get.

Sleep states are active processes that support reorganization of brain circuitry. This makes sleep especially important for children, whose brains are developing and reorganizing rapidly.

The research from the University of Warwick looked at 11,000 children ages 9-11 years old.

Measures of depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and poor cognitive performance in the children were associated with shorter sleep duration. Moreover, the depressive problems were associated with short sleep duration one year later.

“The recommended amount of sleep for children 6 to 12 years of age is 9-12 hours,” said Professor Jianfeng Feng, from the University of Warwick’s Department of Computer Science.  “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.”

A previous study showed that about 60% of adolescents in the United States receive less than eight hours of sleep on school nights.

“Our findings showed that the behavior problems total score for children with less than 7 hours sleep was 53% higher on average and the cognitive total score was 7.8% lower on average than for children with 9-11 hours of sleep,” said Professor Feng. “It highlights the importance of enough sleep in both cognition and mental health in children.”