What is the impact of lack of sleep? You may not know these lasting injuries

▎WuXi AppTec Content Team Editor

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day for children ages 6 to 12 to promote optimal health, but recent generations tend to get less than that amount of sleep per day. To date, no studies have assessed the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on neurocognitive aspects of adolescents.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health In the journal, the study assessed the effects of sleep deprivation on children’s mental health, cognition, brain function and brain structure over a 2-year period.

results showed that children who slept less than 9 hours per night had better performance in certain areas responsible for memory, intelligence and health than children who slept between 9 and 12 hours per night. There were significant differences in brain regions. These differences put sleep-deprived people at greater risk for serious mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and impulsive behavior. Sleep deprivation is also associated with cognitive difficulties with memory, problem solving, and decision-making.

Screenshot source: Reference [1]

For the study, researchers included 8,323 children aged 9 to 10 years from participants in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, based on a 9-hour sleep per day cut-off time, they were divided into adequate sleep group (4142 cases) and sleep deprived group (4181 cases), and matched using propensity score, in 11 key covariates including gender, socioeconomic status and puberty status, etc. The two groups of participants were matched. In addition, at baseline and at 2-year follow-up, the researchers assessed measures including behavioral problems, mental health, cognition, and brain structure and resting-state brain function.


At follow-up assessments, the researchers found that participants in the sleep-enough group experienced progressively less sleep over a 2-year period, while the sleep-deprived group showed little change in sleep patterns.

Similar differences in behavioral and neurological measures were observed in the sleep-sufficient and sleep-deprived groups at baseline and at the 2-year follow-up; There was a significant correlation between the effects of the differences (r=0.85, 95% CI 0.73-0.92; Pindicates that sleep deprivation has a sustained and stable effect on behavioral problems, neurocognitiveness and mental health of adolescents for 2 years. p>

Functional connectivity at rest (r=0.54, 0.45~0.61; PP

Researchers find that cortico-basal ganglia functional connectivity mediates the effects of sleep deprivation on depression, thinking problems, and crystallized intelligence (cognitive abilities based on learned experience in practice) The effects of sleep deprivation on crystallized intelligence are mediated by structural properties of the anterior temporal lobe.

Overall, these results provide population-level evidence for the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on early adolescent neurocognitive development,emphasizing the impact of early sleep interventions on improving long-term adolescent development the value of.

Study author Ze Wang, Ph.D., professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at UMSOM, said: “Compared with children with healthy sleep habits, sleep deprivation at the start of the study (less than 9 hours) had less or less gray matter in certain brain areas responsible for attention, memory, etc. These differences persisted after 2 years, a worrying finding that suggests a lack of sleep will cause long-term harm to these children.”