Sleeping problems in children may affect their behaviour years later

A study from the most recent issue of Journal of Affective Disorders shows that children who don’t sleep well in childhood have more internalising problems later in life. This study looked at French kids in 1991 when they were about 10 years old (give or take a few years). Then they assessed them again in 1999 (about 18 years old), and in 2009 (28 years old). The kids that didn’t sleep very well when they were 10 years old were much more likely to have problems with depression and anxiety when they were 18 and 28 years old.

Good sleeping habits for your child involve not
letting them sleep on concrete.
Photo: © Batemcr | 
Stock Free Images

This is relevant to a current a debate in this area about whether or not sleeping problems can lead to depression and anxiety, or if sleeping problems are a result (or a sign) of depression and anxiety. Again, most likely it is different for everyone, but a lot of the recent long-term studies are staring to reveal a pattern where sleeping problems seem to be present in children before the psychological difficulties appear.

What some of us in my lab would really like to know is, what are the mechanisms for that? In other words, if poor sleep can lead to depression or anxiety, why would that be the case? Does poor sleep affect some sort of biological or physiological process, that in turn can lead to anxiety and depression? This is something we are still trying to work out!

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