Sick boy in a hospital bed with poor sleep health, which can contribute to post surgical pain.

Poor sleep health can affect children after surgery.

There are a number of things that your child goes through as they grow up. Many of these situations involve their health, requiring that they undergo pediatric surgery to remedy whatever ills them. However, what are the after effects of surgery on a child? One study published in The Journal of Pain hopes to find the answer. Researchers discovered that 20 percent of children experience persistent pain after surgery. What is more revealing is that poor sleep health may be the cause.

How Rest Helps the Body

Sleep is important for many reasons as it plays a crucial role in rejuvenating the body’s basic functions and your overall health. The more rest your body receives, the healthier your brain, emotional well-being, physical health, and quality of life will be. For example, sleep maintains a good balance of hormones, especially the ones that control hunger and your blood pressure. Poor sleep health can cause your body to suffer, leaving it at risk for issues like obesity, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

The CDC recommends that children, ages 3-5 years old, receive at least 10-13 hours a day. Meanwhile, older kids, ages 6-12 years old, should sleep for 9-12 hours a day. The CDC states that “Signs of poor sleep quality include not feeling rested even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders (such as snoring or gasping for air). Improving sleep quality may be helped by better sleep habits or being diagnosed and treated for any sleep disorder you may have.” For more recommendations by the CDC, click here.

Evaluating Poor Sleep Health in Kids

Researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital studied 66 children who underwent major surgery. Over a four-month period, the researchers monitored the sleep patterns of the subjects. They wanted to access the relationship between sleep and pain, and see if poor sleep health is associated with greater pain after surgery. To some extents they were correct.

“Poor sleep quality predicted greater subsequent pain intensity the next day and our findings suggest that poor sleep quality may continue to influence the experience of post-surgical pain in children even four months after surgery,” said lead author Jennifer Rabbits, MB, ChB, Department of Anesthesiology at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

On average, most of the children returned to an adequate quality of sleep four months after surgery. However, looking at the children individually revealed the connect to sleep and pain. Rabbits and the rest of the study’s authors hope that this will show how important sleep quality is. If improve their sleeping habits after major surgery, it could aid in reducing post-surgical pain and recovery.

Aside to post-surgical recovery, good quality sleep has proven necessary in improving many other aspects of your health. Other studies have shown that sleep can stimulate your brain’s ability to learn and reduce stress. If you want your child to remain healthy, make sure their sleep schedule is consistent and they aren’t distracted by electronic devices during the night. This will help them stick to better sleeping habits and maintain their overall quality of life.