A good night's sleep is becoming ever more elusive for the average American and it's a problem that plagues us at all ages, from infancy to adulthood. Now three new articles in the journal Sleep tackle the question of sleeplessness: two studies illuminate the reasons why teens and adults don't sleep enough. With teens, a major culprit is cellphone use; with adults, it's work. Meanwhile, a third study of young children reveals that sleep deprivation in early life may lead to future behavioral and cognitive problems.
The study in children was conducted at the Sleep Disorders Center in Montreal, where researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of 1,500 children aged 2.5 to 6 years. The youngsters’ mothers were asked to record the amount of time the children slept each night and fill out questionnaires about their child's hyperactivity, inattention and daytime sleepiness. Half of the kids slept 10 hours a night on average –the recommended amount for preschoolaged children– while 6% slumbered for less than 10 hours each night. Those shortsleeping children, says Dr.Montplaisir, performed poorly on tests of vocabulary and mental development tests at age 5, compared with the more rested group. Not surprisingly, the shortsleepers were also more likely to score higher on tests of hyperactivity at age six, which shows the importance of consistent and sufficient sleep for concentration and attention.
The study, then, suggests that early childhood –before about 3.5 years of age– is a critical period during which parents should establish proper sleeping patterns, because lack of sleep during that stage can negatively affect behavior and development later in life.
DO YOU SLEEP ENOUGH