If your child doesn’t get enough sleep, it could make them more than just grumpy.
Poor sleep as a kid could lead to cognitive behavioral disorders – especially in school, a new study has revealed.
Scientists say that children between the ages of three and seven who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have problems with attention, emotional control and peer relationships in mid-childhood.
Past research has found that there has been a consistent decline in the average hours of sleep in children – by between 30 to 60 minutes over the past 20 years.
However, according to the researchers, parents can spot these issues from as early as six months old and put a stop to any potential problems before it’s too late.
Kids who have poor sleeping habits could develop behavioral issues in mid-childhood, a new study has revealed
The study, conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, analyzed data from Project Viva, a long-term investigation of the health impacts of several factors during pregnancy and after birth.
During in-person interviews, mothers answered questions about their children at six months old, three years old and seven years old, and from annual questionnaires completed when the children were between ages one and six.
In addition, mothers and teachers were sent survey instruments evaluating each child’s mental skills and behavioral issues – including emotional symptoms and problems with conduct or peer relationships when children were around age seven.
Researchers determined the recommended amount of sleep per age group:
- 12 hours or longer at ages six months to two years
- 11 hours or longer at ages three to four
- 10 hours or longer at ages five to seven
They found that children living in homes with lower household incomes and whose mothers had lower levels of education were more likely to sleep less than nine hours from ages five to seven.
The team also found insufficient sleep was associated with factors such as more television viewing, having a higher body mass index, and being African American.
Black children were more than twice as likely to sleep for less than nine hours a day between the ages of five and seven compared to white children.
LACK OF SLEEP COSTS US ECONOMY $411 BILLION, STUDY SAYS
A lack of sleep among the US working population is costing the economy up to $411 billion a year, a new report warns.
Researchers consulted national business reports and peer-reviewed sleep data from five different countries to predict the economic effects of sleeplessness.
The US loses just over 1.2 million working days a year to exhaustion – either from workers taking days off or not performing at their prime.
The study, by the non-profit research firm the RAND Corporation, also warns a lack of sleep drastically raises mortality risk.
‘Poor sleep’ was defined as less than six hours a night, while the optimum amount is somewhere between seven and nine hours.
Those who do not reach the six-hour mark have a 13 percent higher mortality risk than people who sleep eight hours, researchers found.
The ones in between – with about six-and-a-half hours’ sleep – also suffer; they have a seven percent higher mortality risk than their better-rested colleagues.
Reports from both mothers and teachers found an association between poor function and not receiving enough sleep, with teachers reporting even greater problems.
Teachers noted neurobehavioral issues in the form of inattention/hyperactivity, emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression, peer problems, and conduct problems such as aggressiveness and rule-breaking.
‘We found that children who get an insufficient amount of sleep in their preschool and early school-age years have a higher risk of poor neurobehavioral function at around age seven,’ said lead author Dr Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
‘The associations between insufficient sleep and poorer functioning persisted even after adjusting for several factors that could influence the relationship.’
Although no link was observed between insufficient sleep during infancy – between the ages of six months and two years – the researchers noted that sleep levels during this stage often predict levels at later ages.
A study in February, jointly conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of York in the UK, found that teenagers who are not sleeping are almost five times more likely to commit crimes as adults.
Scientists said that youths who self-report feeling drowsy mid-afternoon tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior such as lying, cheating, stealing and fighting.
Dr Taveras added that health complications could arise, such as poor sleep leading to obesity.
She said: ‘The results of this new study indicate that one way in which poor sleep may lead to these chronic disease outcomes is by its effects on inhibition, impulsivity and other behaviors that may lead to excess consumption of high-calorie foods.
‘It will be important to study the longer-term effects of poor sleep on health and development as children enter adolescence, which is already underway through Project Viva.’