Sleep-deprived students pose mental health risk, says new study

Children who fail to get a good night's sleep have an increased chance of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disoders, according to new research published this week.

The study in the latest issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry says poor sleepers are also more likely than other children to end up abusing drugs or alcohol or indulging in risk-taking behaviour.

Academics from Goldsmiths, University of London and Tel Aviv University say teachers and parents should look out for children who are not sleeping well in order to catch potential problems before they develop.

In a review of five years of research into the causes of and implications of sleep disorders in children, the academics found that sleep problems can serve as an early indication of problems likely to develop at a later stage.

Alice Gregory, the Goldsmiths' author, said: "Disorders typically start early in life, so it's negligent to ignore the childhood and adolescent period. Sleep can be assessed very early in life, and has been found to constitute an early risk indicator of later problems. Sleep disturbances may serve as a red flag for the development of a host of other disorders."

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