If your child is displaying rebellious behavior and you’re looking for solutions, the answer could be better sleep, according to researchers at the University of Georgia Youth Development Institute.
In a new study, they found that getting more sleep could reduce impulsive behavior in children. “Stressful environments have been shown to cause adolescents to seek immediate rewards rather than long-term rewards, but there are also adolescents in stressful environments who are not impulsive,” said lead author Linhao Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student. in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia.
While sleep is important for overall health, it can also influence behavior. To study this, the researchers analyzed data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, funded by the US National Institutes of Health.
The researchers used data from more than 11,800 children, ages 9 to 10. The results showed that lack of sleep and prolonged sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) had a strong relationship with impulsive behaviors.
The researchers conducted interventions at various times over two years. When children slept less than the recommended nine hours or spent more than 30 minutes trying to sleep, the authors found a strong relationship with impulsive behaviors.
These behaviors included acting without a plan, seeking thrills or sensations, and lacking perseverance.
When there were no sleep problems, impulsivity was less likely to arise. Zhang said so-called neurological hyperconnectivity, where adolescents’ brains remain highly active even when they are not engaged in tasks, also plays a role.
This study looked at the default neural network, which is a brain network related to goal-directed behaviors, and found a possible link to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When this network was overactive during rest, it exacerbated the link between stressful environments, sleep, and impulsivity.
“It’s also possible that this hyperactivity and ADHD are highly correlated, so in a future study we could test that in a more clinical setting.
“That could have big implications for intervention or counseling programs.”
Zhang said this research, published in the August issue of the journal Sleep Health, suggests that low-cost interventions can help the psychological development of children who face stressors at home. “If you want to develop interventions for people in settings stressful, it’s very expensive, and sometimes it takes generational work to change,” Zhang said.
“However, sleep is a modifiable behavior and these changes can be profitable.
“Zhang also pointed out the problem between school start times and teenagers, who have circadian rhythms that make them stay up late and have a hard time getting up early.