Here’s how sleep deprivation may cause behavioral problems

Here’s how sleep deprivation may cause behavioral problems

Usually considered a leisure activity, sleep actually has an important role to play in helping one lead a healthy life. The number of hours of sleep needed every day by an individual varies with different age groups, as has been suggested by experts. In general, lack of proper sleep causes irritation and agitation, which further affects the physical health and cognitive abilities. In fact, studies have also identified sleep deprivation, especially in younger children, to be one of the main causes of behavioral problems in adulthood.

A recent study carried out by the University of Melbourne in Australia suggested that while sleep deprivation in young children could lead to internalizing behavioral problems, such as fear, anxiety, along with some  physical complaints, there was also a connection between sleep disorder and externalizing difficulties, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder in children when measured at particular time points through early adolescence.

Although researchers have stated that the directionality of the association between sleep problems during childhood and developing behavioral problems later in life has not been understood properly, they have stressed on the fact that if a proper understanding was developed, it would provide some really valuable information. This would pave the path for a proper focus on finding ways to improve the child’s sleep pattern and behavior. They further suggested that if there was indeed an association between the two, then it would be beneficial to manage the problems during childhood, to reduce the chance of mental health issues developing later in life.

The researchers took into account the nationally representative data from the first five waves (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012) of the kindergarten cohort (4,983 children aged 4-5 years in 2004) collected for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The study concluded that despite the complex association between mental health and sleep, the findings have to lead a developmental pathway and it is essential that both are routinely assessed and managed in clinical practice.

Medical benefits of sleep to mental health

Several studies conducted previously had identified lack of sleep to be a major cause leading to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. On the other hand, studies have also indicated that few extra hours of sleep can have an equivalent effect as that of antidepressants or anti-anxiety pills. In this regard, a study by J. Todd Arnedt, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Michigan Medical School, identified that “getting two extra hours in bed made patients who took antidepressants twice as likely to have improved depression symptoms.”

Additionally, there have been studies and research which suggest that getting the correct amount of sleep goes a long way in alleviating the symptoms of trauma and helps in eliminating the haunting flashbacks and memories. According to a University of Zurich study, sleeping during the first 24 hours after experiencing a trauma can help in processing the distressing memories more effectively, thereby becoming an “early prevention strategy for posttraumatic stress disorders.”

Further, ensuring a timely sleeping pattern also helps in relaxing the mind and enabling the body to perform its mechanisms properly. It not only protects from mental disorders like anxiety, stress, depression, etc., but also keeps the individual physically and mentally fresh.

Road to recovery

Sleep is vital to health, especially for children as they are in a developing stage. It is during this stage that their behaviors, memory and social skills mature significantly. Sleep deprivation can potentially lead to improper growth and development.

If you are concerned about your child suffering from some mental health issues or sleep-related problems, you must seek immediate medical help from a licensed medical practitioner. You may contact Colorado Mental Health Help for information about the best mental health treatment centers near you. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 899-5063 or chat online with our experts to know about the mental health treatment centers in Colorado.