New UMD study shows children who don't get enough sleep may end up with greater mental health issues

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BALTIMORE — The time children go to sleep could have lasting impacts on their intelligence, development and overall mental health, according to a new study conducted at University of Maryland’s School of Medicine.

So little is known about the human brain, especially as a child ages, but a new study is taking data focused on sleep and analyzing it to determine to the effects it has on that child

“Kids with insufficient sleep, they have problems with lack of focus, memory, they have problems like with lack of inhibition control, they have more impulsivity,” said Dr. Ze Wang, an associate professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine.

Insufficient sleep is anything less than nine hours for children ages 9-10. Wang said he’s noticing the children who get only 6-8 hours of sleep have less gray matter volume in areas of their brain that affect their behavior, cognition and mental health.

If the pattern doesn’t change, these immodest effects may accumulate and get bigger, and eventually become permanent

Anxiety, depression, psychosis and other issues later in life could be linked to inadequate sleep as a child, which is why Niko Colbert is getting his 2-year-old into a routine early.

“When she don’t get 10 hours, she’s cranky a little bit, but when she do, she’s the most perfect little girl ever,” he said.

Colbert said she goes to sleep around 8 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m., a good pattern for once she is going to school.

“It’s important to let your kids get enough sleep,” he said. “They need sleep in order to function — in life, you have to have sleep.”