Posts tagged children and lack of sleep

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

Poor Sleep Health Results in Pain After Surgery

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.

Little girl hugging her teddy while sleeping, which she does during late nights.

Late Nights Affect Brain Activity in Children

Little girl hugging her teddy while sleeping, which she does during late nights.

It important that your child doesn’t spend late nights awake.

Are you monitoring your child after telling them to go to bed? Well, if research from the University Hospital of Zurich is any indication, it’s time to make sure they put the tablets away, turn the lights out, and turn off the TV. Sleep deprivation is serious. When your kids go to bed late on a school night, this can impact their health. In fact, late nights up appear to affect the brain.

Testing Children During Late Nights

It’s important to know that a child’s mind is still developing. So, their early years is a crucial time and sleep deprivation may affect them differently than adults. At the University Hospital of Zurich, scientists wanted to know exactly how their brains change due to a lack of sleep. The author of the study, Salome Kurth states “The process of sleep may be involved in brain ‘wiring’ in childhood and thus affect brain maturation.”

Researchers from several universities assembled 13 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. The first night, they let the children go to sleep at a regularly scheduled time. However, during the next night, they kept the children awake for a long time by reading and playing with them. The results between the two nights showed that the back regions of the brain are affected when children don’t sleep well.

Why Change in Brain Activity Occurs

When the body does not receive enough sleep, it requires deep sleep. This is true for both adults and children. This deep sleep produces slow-wave activity in the brain, an electrical pattern which helps a person recover. Slow-wave activity occurs in regions of the brain affected by a lack of sleep.

For most adults, the frontal region of the brain is affected by sleep deprivation. In this new study, it showed that the back regions of the brain were impacted in children. The back region or parieto-occipital area of the brain controls auditory, visual, and somatosensory information.

Hopefully, more research with a larger group of children can develop more conclusive results. For now, it is wise to tuck your children in and make sure that they are sleeping enough at night.

An image of two preschoolers with their heads on top of a school desk, which is a result of sleep deprivation in kids.

Sleep Deprivation in Kids Leads to Bad Eating Habits

An image of two preschoolers with their heads on top of a school desk, which is a result of sleep deprivation in kids.

Sleep deprivation in kids is becoming a rising problem.

How are your children sleeping? In our last post, we talked about how a lack of sleep in adolescents affects their life choices in the future. Another study has discovered that preschoolers (Ages 3 to 4 years old) are more likely to develop bad eating habits if they suffer from sleep deprivation. Find out why it is important for children to take naps during the first few years of their lives, and how to prevent sleep deprivation in kids.

What Research Says About Sleep Deprivation in Kids

The research was performed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where researchers sought to mimic the sleeping habits of preschoolers. They did this by depriving the kids of an afternoon nap and keeping them up two hours later than their bedtimes. The next day, they let the children sleep as much as they could.

The researchers’ test resulted in the kids consuming at least 20 percent more calories than they would normally eat. Even after receiving an adequate amount of sleep the next day, the children still consumed at least 14 percent more calories than usual.

Apparently, this issue is becoming a common problem. The National Sleep Foundation has found that 30 percent of these children are not sleeping enough.

“We found that sleep loss increased the dietary intake of preschoolers on both the day of and the day after restricted sleep,” says Assistant Professor LeBourgeois of the Department of Integrative Physiology and lead author.

How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation

This study is revealing. It confirms that the link between sleep and obesity is the same in children as it is in adults. In order to prevent your child from developing bad eating habits, here are a few points to remember:

  • Preschoolers need their naps.
  • Children around the age of 3 and 4 years old need go to bed at a regularly scheduled time.
  • According to the CDC, preschoolers need at least 11 to 12 hours of sleep a day.


An image of good sleeping habits. It depicts a close up shot of a young boy, asleep in bed.

Sleeping Habits Linked to Drug Abuse in Adolescents

An image of good sleeping habits. It depicts a close up shot of a young boy, asleep in bed.

Can your child’s sleeping habits lead them to make negative life choices?

The importance of sleep is crucial to our development and well-being. Unfortunately, for many people in America, our sleeping habits are not the best. This is especially true in the early years of our lives. Growing adolescents need rest and when they don’t receive the proper amount, it can lead to dire consequences. As the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recently discovered, there may be a relation between a child’s sleeping habits and their likelihood to abuse substances.

The Importance of Good Sleeping Habits

The study by the UPMC showed that children who do not sleep enough and experience poor sleep quality are more likely to try alcohol and cannabis. Many years ago, the mothers of 186 boys completed a Child Sleep Questionnaire when the children were 11 years old. Researchers followed up with these boys about their use of cannabis and alcohol after they turned 20 years old.

It was after this follow-up that the researchers saw the link between sleeping habits and substance abuse. In fact, they estimated that the for every hour less of sleep that an 11-year old boy received, the earlier they were likely to use these substances. This lack of sleep is more of a risk for kids during late childhood. It is also a situation that some scientists hope they can prevent.

According to Brant P. Hasler, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology, and lead author of the study, “Doing what we can to ensure sufficient sleep duration and improve sleep quality during late childhood may have benefits in terms of reducing the use of these substances later in life.”

While this study proved a need for children to obtain better quality sleep, it only analyzed how a lack of sleep affect young boys. Hopefully, another study will confirm if adolescent girls are affected in the same way. What we do know is that parents need to monitor their child’s sleeping habits.

A little girl, who appears restless in bed due to sleep loss.

Sleep Loss: Children at Risk For Emotional Disorders

A little girl, who appears restless in bed due to sleep loss.

Sleep loss can affect your child’s emotional state, leading to disorders like insomnia and anxiety.

Parents constantly worry about their child’s development. They stress over their child’s health, as well as their emotional state of being. However, what if their health and emotions were tied together? One study suggests that sleep loss in children increases their risk for emotional disorders.

Emotional Disorders

Scientists for the University of Houston recently revealed the long-term effects of sleep loss. Without an adequate amount of sleep, children are at risk for developing depression and anxiety as they grow up. These are serious conditions that can have severe consequences down the line.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1 out of 20 Americans, 12 years of age and older, reported current depression in 2009–2012. Depression comes with a variety of emotional symptoms. This includes a loss of appetite, loss of interest, sadness and hopelessness, insomnia, and thoughts of death or suicide.

While occasional anxiety is common among people, conditions such as general anxiety, panic, and social anxiety disorder can deeply affect one’s quality of life. Symptoms of this condition can affect the way people operate within the world around them, as they are in constant fear. Intense worry, attacks of fear, and an inability to interact with others, are just some of the issues people with anxiety have to deal with on a daily basis.

How Sleep Loss Affects Children Emotionally

Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate psychology professor at the University of Houston, says that the study’s purpose was to determine “how children appraise, express, regulate and later recall emotional experiences, both when sleep is adequate and when it is inadequate.”

The study tested 50 children, between the ages of 7 to 11, by restricting their sleep. They found that the children not only began to show sign of negative emotions, but were less impacted by positive experiences. Sleep loss seemed to have affected how they view things emotionally, putting a negative veil over everything they did, and making activities less exciting.

In the end, Alfano suggested that “Continually experiencing inadequate sleep can eventually lead to depression, anxiety and other types of emotional problems. Parents, therefore, need to think about sleep as an essential component of overall health in the same way they do nutrition, dental hygiene and physical activity. If your child has problems waking up in the morning or is sleepy during the day, then their nighttime sleep is probably inadequate. This can result for several reasons, such as a bedtime that is too late, non-restful sleep during the night, or an inconsistent sleep schedule.”

Young child sleeping in bed with teddy in background. Sleep apnea in children like him affect their learning.

Sleep Apnea in Children: Learning Challenges



Young child sleeping in bed with teddy in background. Sleep apnea in children like him affect their learning.

How well your child sleeps is an essential part of their development. Sleep apnea in children threatens their educational development.

As parents raise their children they often worry about the state of their well-being. Thoughts such as how they are sleeping throughout the night, and how well they are preforming in school, are examples of everyday concerns. Sometimes, those concerns are one in the same. Sleep apnea in children is a growing issue, and a recent study shows that learning challenges are also on the rise.

How Sleep Apnea in Children Affects Schoolwork

Scientists from the University of Chicago brought together 1,359 public school children ages 5 to 7 years, those with and those without a pre-existing snoring condition. The students were separated into four groups based on the severity of their sleep apnea.

They underwent sleep assessment questionnaires, an overnight sleep study and a measurement of their cognitive functions. Scientist found that even snoring has a detrimental effect on a child’s memory and language and his ability to understand and pay attention. Sleep apnea in children increases the chance of developing these cognitive defects.

How to Prevent Sleep Apnea in Children

The results of the study were presented at the ATS 2016 International Conference where Leila Gozal, MD, MSc, from the University of Chicago, states, “Our findings provide further justification for exploration and development of simple cognitive batteries that can be coupled to the current clinical evaluation of children with habitual snoring such as to better guide the management of the decision-making process.”

If you are a parent worried that your child is at risk for sleep apnea, here are some common symptoms you can look for:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
  • Snoring, pauses in breathing, snorts, or gasping.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Behavioral problems.
  • Learning difficulties.

The study shows that sleep apnea in children can lead to cognitive difficulties, which slow the progress of your child’s development. An ENT physician specializes in helping patients with sleep apnea symptoms. Consider having your child evaluated by a local ENT physician, so that the state of their well-being is less of a concern in the back of your mind.

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