An international research team has found that shorter sleep duration in children is associated with depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and poor cognitive performance.
The study, led by Feng Jianfeng, a professor from Fudan University in Shanghai, examined the relationship between sleep duration and brain structure based on the data of 11,000 children aged 9 to 11.
"The children who sleep for less than seven hours were 53 percent more likely to have behavioral problems, while their cognitive total score was 7.8 percent lower on average compared to those with 9 to 11 hours' sleep," Feng said.
The study highlights the importance of getting enough sleep for both cognition and mental health in children, at a time when sleep disturbances are common among children and adolescents around the world, he noted.
Shorter sleep duration is associated with lower brain volumes of brain areas including the orbitofrontal cortex, prefrontal and temporal cortex, precuneus, and supramarginal gyrus, the team found.
The recommended amount of sleep for children 6 to 12 years of age is 9 to 12 hours, according to the team.
The results of the study have been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.