Scans of brains reveal that deprivation from sleep damages a child’s brain more than what is usually thought. Researchers found some possibly disturbing signs after measuring brain development activity in children whose sleep duration was reduced restricted up to a few hours. The participants of the study included children with ages from five to twelve.
The experiment was done in form of sleep restriction on some children. The researchers then compared the effects of normal good night’s sleep with those with deprived sleep hours yet same wake up timings. Previously research done on adults showed that an increase in waves of deep sleep was possible with sleep restrictions. The results were associated with change in the brain activity in the front region.
The similar effects were seen as a result of research on children but the brain activity on the side and back regions was seen as changing its patterns. These brain regions are associated with spatial reasoning, planning and attention. The researchers concluded that such changes in brain regions could affect brain development among young children. The concept of brain plasticity in which neural structures change and try to adapt to stimuli that brain regions receive.
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Waves of deep sleep that result from sleep deprivation are worrisome as they can slow down or disrupt the plasticity of the brain development process. It was also noticed that sleep deprivation affected the fatty sheath or coating over the nerve fibers that go to back of the brain and known as myelin sheath.
The study was carried out to observe short term impact of sleep restriction on children and was a small-scale research. However, with a large-scale study the effects of sleep deprivation on children’s brain can be analyzed to observe long term outfalls.