Anxiety and Sleep Patterns Start in Childhood
In an era when some people consider sleep to be nothing but unproductive “downtime”, more evidence continues to emerge that healthy sleep is essential to our well-being. Like many habits or patterns, childhood and early adolescence is a critical time for restorative sleep. It helps the mind freshly adapt to learning, emotional growth, and deal effectively with daily worries.
It is estimated that 70 percent of American teens between 12 and 14 years of age are sleep deficient. Not surprisingly, because children’s decision-making abilities are still being formed up at that point, this lack of rest results in risky behavior, depression, anxiety, and a host of maladaptive responses to stress.
While there is a lot of work that needs to be done to establish the best ways to support healthy sleep and reduce anxiety, a specific botanical – a clinically studied Echinacea angustifolia – can provide safe symptom relief without negative side effects or drowsiness.
McMakin DL, Alfano CA. Sleep and anxiety in late childhood and early adolescence. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2015;28(6):483–489.
Purpose of review: Adolescence is a period of dynamic change in both sleep and emotional systems, with related increases in problems controlling emotion and behavior. Youth with anxiety enter adolescence with pre-existing vulnerabilities in systems of sleep and emotion that may place them at heightened risk. This review summarizes recent research on sleep and anxiety during the transition to adolescence, and highlights emerging themes.
Recent findings: Prospective studies support that sleep predicts anxiety symptoms in early adolescence. Notably, robust evidence for subjective sleep problems in anxious youth is not well corroborated by objective assessments. Longitudinal designs and methodology that carefully examine dimensions of anxiety and sleep may clarify inconsistencies. Preliminary evidence suggests that late childhood to early adolescence may be a sensitive period for escalating problems with sleep and anxiety. Recent advances in the neuroscience of sleep can further refine integrative mechanistic models of developmental psychopathology - the role of sleep in emotional learning and memory is provided as an example.
Summary: Sleep problems are common and prospectively predict escalating anxiety symptoms. Precision is needed regarding the nature of sleep disruption, and how and when sleep affects various aspects of developmental trajectories. This precision, along with advances in the neuroscience of sleep, may lead to developmentally informed translational interventions.