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Not enough sleep may harm children’s developing brains

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Posted at 12:57 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 17:52:31-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — As a parent of four kids, I know all too well how much children dislike bedtime. But, this new study shows how imperative it is that kids get to bed at a decent time. Because not enough sleep can harm their developing brains.

Researchers analyzed data from over 8,300 children participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study. This study is the largest long-term investigation in the U.S., looking at brain development and children's health. The children were 9 or 10 years old when this study began and they were followed for two years. MRI scans, medical records, and surveys were examined, and here's what was found.

At the start of the study, the children who slept less than nine hours a night had less grey matter in certain brain regions. They had smaller volume in areas responsible for memory, attention, and inhibition control compared to kids who had healthy sleep habits. Two years later, these differences were still present. As a result, researchers linked inadequate sleep to difficulties with memory, problem-solving, and decision-making. As well as mental health issues like anxiety, depression and impulsive behavior.

So, parents, that's why it's important to create a healthy sleep routine for children. Here's my advice:

1. Set a regular bedtime. And be consistent Monday through the weekend, including holidays and vacations.
2. Schedule quiet time one hour before bed. Kids can take a bath, read books or listen to music to wind down.
3. Limit screen time. We know kids love their media but avoid screens an hour before bed.
4. If your child keeps getting out of bed, walk them back to bed right away. If they keep asking for the same things every night – like a glass of water or one more hug – make it part of the bedtime routine.

Not every child is going to sleep perfectly every night. But kids aged 6 to 12 should sleep between 9 and 12 hours every night.

If your child is having issues, like trouble falling asleep, waking up often, snoring, or trouble breathing in bed, be sure to talk with your pediatrician. Many persistent sleep problems in kids can be resolved or improved with professional treatment.

On the next Dr. Nandi Show, "Is Technology Killing Us"?  Dr. Partha Nandi, MD investigates how cell phones are affecting our lives.  You'll hear how guest Mary Karen McClellan was first excited to get a cell phone - until she started suffering from headaches.  Mary shares how her health improved when her family ditched wifi and became a hard-wired household.  Also, clinical psychotherapist, Theodora Scarato discusses brain imaging and shows the effects of radiofrequency radiation on the brains of both adults and children.  Plus, Dr. Michael Halliday offers a possible solution against the effects of EMF.  Tune in this Sunday, August 7th at 5 pm.