According to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder, the connections between the left and the right hemispheres of young children’s brains increased as much as 20% over a night’s sleep. In fact, connections weakened “within” hemispheres but strengthened “between” hemispheres.
We know from a long time that drastic changes happen inside a skull during the early years. New neuronal connections are constantly established while unused ones are deleted, depending on the child’s experience and environment. The maturation of nerve fibers has a major influence on language, attention and impulse control skills, among others, and sleep and brain development seem to be closely related.
While inadequate sleep in childhood may have negative effects on the development of the brain, it still remains not very clear how important sleep really is for a growing kid. The many studies underway in this domain should tell us more about it soon.
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