Childhood Sleep Problems and Mental Health Woes

One of the more common health facts you hear about is the need to get about eight hours of sleep per night. Aside from being necessary for adult workers, sleep is likewise crucial for growing children. The importance of healthy childhood sleeping patterns was recently highlighted by a report from Auburn University.

Sleep, Depression and Anxiety

Published in the October 2020 issue of the journal Sleep, this study observed the sleeping habits and mental health of nearly 200 children between 9 and 11 years of age. Additionally, each child underwent a second mental health analysis upon turning eighteen. 

As it turns out, children who fail to get adequate amounts of sleep on a nightly basis might struggle with their mental health as they enter adulthood. Specifically, those who had difficulty maintaining a proper sleep cycle at age nine were found to struggle with both depression and anxiety by the age of eighteen.

A Helping Hand

The Auburn team had some help when it came to paying for the study, as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provided the funding for this project. According to the study’s senior author, Professor Mona El-Sheikh, this financial backing was essential for the study’s success. 

“Continuity of funding from NHLBI over many years has allowed us to conduct long-term assessments and analyses,” stated El-Sheikh, a professor at Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences. “Our previous research has discovered many ways that poor sleep can be detrimental over shorter time frames, but this study is novel in its indication that early sleep problems early in childhood are related to health outcomes many years later.”

Given the findings above, it makes sense that sufficient sleep is especially important for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between the ages of nine and twelve get 9 to 12 hours of sleep every day.

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