Health News: Staying Up Late Causes More Damage To Children’s Brains Than Those of Adults

By Minnow Blythe, Parent Herald November 30, 01:56 pm

Everyone should get at least six to eight hours of sleep every day. Sleep is important not only to recharge the body but also to keep the brain healthy. A recent study claims that staying up late or being deprived of sleep causes more damage to children's brains than those of adults.

A new study by the University Hospital of Zurich claims that the lack of sleep inflicts severe damage to a child's developing brain. Sleep deprivation mainly affects the posterior brain regions responsible for planned movements, spatial reasoning, and attention. The damage in the child's developing brain is immediately noticeable but will have long-lasting effects.

The study was conducted by a large support team of students, Dr. Kurth, Professor Monique LeBourgeois of the University of Colorado, and Professor Sean Deoni of Brown University studied the effects of sleep deprivation on children's brain. Thirteen children ranging from ages five to twelve were tested by going through a fifty percent sleep deprivation.

The research started by measuring the children's deep sleep patterns during their regular sleep hours. The next night, the children were kept playing games and reading way past their bedtimes. The children's brains' activities were measured through a non-invasive procedure called an electroencephalogram.

By measuring the children's brains before and after sleep deprivation, the researchers are looking for how much slow-wave activity affects the different parts of the brain. The slow-wave activity is an electrical pattern found during deep sleep and recovery of the brain.

The results show that there is an increase of slow-wave activity in the back regions of the brain particularly the parietooccipital areas. Meaning these areas of the brain are the ones greatly affected when a person lacks sleep.

The researchers also measured the correlation of low sleep activity to the myelin content in the brain. Myelin content is the cornerstone of the development of the brain. Myelin is a brain substance that enables information between brain cells to travel faster.

The results show that the same regions of the brain affected by the lack of sleep also has a high myelin content. Meaning the areas of the brain affected by sleep deprivation needed a lot of myelin content to function properly. This result is similar to the effects of sleep deprivation on an adult's brain.

Further studies are still needed to know for sure if the damages inflicted on a child's developing brain due to sleep deprivation is permanent or temporary. The researchers conclude that a child's developing brain is more susceptible to damages inflicted by the lack of sleep. So no matter how young or old you are, you must get the prescribed six to eight hours of sleep to help not only the body but also the brain recover from all the activities of the day.

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