Sleep essential for child brain development
Parents have one more reason to make sure their little ones get a good night’s sleep. A new study says consistent sleep is essential for brain development in young children.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder measured the brain activity of children numerous times at ages, 2, 3 and 5 years old. Using electroencephalograms (EEG), study leaders discovered that the neuro-connections between the right and left sides of the brain grew significantly stronger as the children slept.
When those connections are strengthened, overall brain function increases and matures, study leaders said. On the contrary, when sleep is lacking, brain development may be hampered. The findings were published in the journal Brain Sciences.
“I believe inadequate sleep in childhood may affect the maturation of the brain related to the emergence of developmental or mood disorders,” said research leader Salome Kurth in a news release.
Though scientists aren’t exactly certain how sleep actually strengthens the brain, they know those healthy connections are important for language development and attention span.
The new discovery is just one of a number of sleep studies that prove the importance of shut-eye for children, especially teens.
Recent research from the University of Pennsylvania found that if teens get more sleep, they may decrease their risk for being overweight. The findings showed that for each hour more a child slept on a regular basis, their body mass index (BMI) levels fell into a healthier range. Fewer hours of sleep were associated with higher increases in BMI for the teens, ages 14 to 18.
Additionally, sufficient sleep among teen athletes could also keep them safer on the playing field, says a study presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics recently. Researchers found that adolescent athletes who sleep at least eight hours nightly were a whopping 68 percent less likely to sustain an injury than their counterparts who get less sleep.
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