Children who sleep less than 9 hours may be less intelligent - Study finds

Experts recommend between nine and 12 hours of sleep nightly for children ages 6 to 12.

Children sleeping

A University of Maryland research has shown that school-age kids who sleep less than nine hours exhibit differences in brain regions associated with memory, intelligence and well-being.

According to the research, it examined MRI images and medical records of more than 8,300 children aged 9 to 10, as well as surveys completed by the participants and their parents.

The team linked lack of sleep to mental health issues like depression and anxiety and memory issues, including problem-solving and decision making.

Researchers accounted for socioeconomic status, gender, puberty status and other factors that could affect a child’s sleep habits and brain function.

Follow-up evaluations showed that the sleep habits of the group who did not meet the recommended nine to 12 hours per night did not change significantly over two years.

“We found that children who had insufficient sleep, less than nine hours per night, at the beginning of the study had less grey matter or smaller volume in certain areas of the brain responsible for attention, memory, and inhibition control, compared to those with healthy sleep habits,” the study’s corresponding author Ze Wang, said in a news release.

“These differences persisted after two years, a concerning finding that suggests long-term harm for those who do not get enough sleep,” he continued.

Experts recommend between nine and 12 hours of sleep nightly for children ages 6 to 12.

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