I think we have all come to realize that lack of sleep is associated with drowsiness, irritability and decreased functioning ability in adults. Sadly, it is not uncommon to hear of a driver falling asleep at the wheel causing an accident.
But what of the effects of sleep deprivation in children? Parents and teachers instinctively seem to know that children need sleep or they may suffer the consequences of cranky, restless children. However, researchers have found that beyond the irritation of an uncooperative child, lack of sleep might have a more dramatic effect on the development of children. Some studies have concluded that early sleep problems might well be predictors of later behavioral, emotional, and learning problems.
“Good” sleepers have been shown to perform better than “poor” sleepers when given cognitive skills tests on the computer. Studies interviewing parents and teachers have suggested that regardless of gender or ethnicity learning problems were noted in children who snored excessively. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea which can be a disruptive factor to sleep.
Is lack of sleep a problem in children? It can be. If an otherwise healthy child exhibits persistently poor behavior and or learning performance, it is a factor to be considered. Parents and teachers should be aware as they observe the children they supervise and raise any concerns with health professionals.