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Sleep duration might affect child's mental health

According to a study, depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour, and poor cognitive peformance in children are linked to quality and quantity of sleep they get and lack of sleep may bring structural changes in brain of child.

The researchers, including those from the University of Warwick in the UK, said sound sleep supports reorganisation of nerve connections in the brain which is pertinent children, particularly whose brains are developing rapidly.

In the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the scientists examined the brain structures of 11,000 children of 9-11 ages, and compared them with data on their daily sleep duration. It has been found that children with short sleep duration are likely to fall in 
depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour, and poor cognitive performance. 

The scientists said lower volume of brain areas, including the orbitofrontal cortex—present in the front portion of the brain and involved in decision making—and the temporal cortex—important for hearing—are associated with shorter sleep duration.

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The study noted, size reduction of other brain regions like the precuneus, which is essential for episodic memory recollection, and the supramarginal gyrus, involved in the perception of space and limbs location are also linked to poor sleep.

“The recommended amount of sleep for children 6 to 12 years of age is 9-12 hours. 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,” said study co-author Jianfeng Feng from the University of Warwick.

The brain structure changes are associated with sleep problems, whether or not children experience depressive problems, according to the study. 

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


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