Apr 28 2009

Sleep deprivation linked to hyperactivity in children

It is a well-known fact that sleep deprivation affects your mood.  So the recent Finnish study that reported children’s behaviour worsened with inadequate sleep should come as a no-brainer.  However, it made news because most reports on sleep focused on adults.

But, now we know better.  Children who do not get enough sleep may not show signs of sleepiness, but often they do.  However, they may be very irritable and hyperactive, instead.  Some, for those unfortunate parents, may show all these signs. It is difficult for most parents to gauge the amount of sleep their children are getting.  Just because they’ve sent their children to bed does not mean that child fell asleep.  Some children may have difficulty falling asleep while others purposely stay awake to do something else.  The consequences are usually the same.  Yet, it may be difficult to persuade children that if they had enough sleep, they would feel better.

The children in the Finnish study did not have ADHD, but when they had less than 8 hours of sleep, they began to display symptoms of ADHD.  Perhaps, there is a connection somehow.  It seems that more and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD recently.  Many are treated; some may be inappropriately treated.  Though the studies showed that 8 hours was the threshold for sleep adequacy, experts warn that not all children need 8 hours.  The Healthy Blogger would agree.  Some may need much more.  On the other hand, some may function very well with less.  This is less usual and would probably be more appropriate for older children.  The same criteria can be applied to adults.  Most require 8 hours, some may do with less, some will require more.  And, usually the elderly do better with frequent short spurts of sleep.

However you look at it, we all need adequate sleep.  How much is adequate is individualised.  You can always tell when you’ve not had enough.  Now, you know how to spot it in children as well.