Lack of Sleep Affects Kids’ Brains Differently Than Adults



Photo Credit: Kids Harbor



You certainly don’t need scientific evidence to prove to you that sleep deprivation is harmful to your health; however, what you do need to understand is that lack of sleep affects children differently than adults. According to a statement from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults isn’t getting the proper amount of sleep, which leads to critical health and mental issues.


Additionally, the CDC also associates frequent mental distress, stroke, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes with sleeping less than seven hours each night. Adults aren’t the only ones who can have negative effects on inadequate sleep; children can also experience several adverse consequences from not sleeping enough. A study indicates that reduced sleep in children can impact the maturation of their brain and also cause damage.

During the study, researchers measured how deep sleep activity was associated with the myelin portion of the brain (which is critical to brain development.) Myelin is known as a fatty microstructure of the brain’s white matter, allowing electrical information between the brain cells to provide a quicker travel.

Results of the study show that sleep loss does, in fact, affect the brain specifically in the regions associated with the myelin content, at least short-term during sensitive periods where the brain is going through developmental changes. Further studies are underway to research the long-term effects of kids going to bed late and getting insufficient sleep.

So, How Can You Prevent This?

It may seem easy to say kids should go to bed early. That’s an obvious statement but each family and their schedule varies. The following are a few tips that can benefit you and your family to ensure your child is getting adequate sleep.

Reduce TV Time in Child’s Bedroom

It’s a parent’s personal preference if they want to allow a TV in their child’s bedroom. However, to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep, make sure their TV is off. It’s not just because they will watch it if it’s on, but studies show that deep sleep can’t occur if there is a TV on in the room or if their room is lit up.


Little boy in casuals sittting in empty room with laptop
Photo Credit: Stay at Home Servers

No Screen Time Before Bed

Having no screen time before bed doesn’t just apply to television. A useful tip is to reduce tablet, video game, and other electronic screen time at least 2-3 hours before bed. Having the screen time before bed stimulates the brain and it can lead to a child having a harder time getting to sleep. Unplugging electronics at least a couple hours before bedtime gives your child’s brain time to unwind

Routine is Everything

If your child already has a habit of staying up late, don’t get too upset if you try getting them to bed early and they don’t fall asleep right away. They aren’t trying to be bad – usually – their bodies just need to adapt to the new routine.


Do you have any other tips that would benefit other readers for making sure children get enough sleep? We would love to hear your ideas!


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