Children who sleep better and also those who get up early they have more gray matter in the brain, specifically in eight cortical regions and in the hippocampus, in addition to better academic performance and higher IQ.

This has been demonstrated by scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) belonging to the Mixed Health and Sports Institute (Imuds) and the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (Cimcyc), who collaborate in the ActiveBrains study, in which more than 100 overweight or obese children participated as reported by the academic institution in a statement on Friday.

His work, led by researcher Francisco Ortega and published in the journal ‘Pediatric Obesity’, has confirmed that sleep is associated with increased gray matter in some areas of the brain that are “important for better academic performance and cognitive development”, according to the researcher from the Department of Physical and Sports Education of the UGR and main author of the work, Jairo Hidalgo Migueles.

Likewise, the researchers found that waking up earlier was “strongly associated with better academic performance”According to Migueles, for whom this result would indicate the importance of “ensuring an adequate window of time from when the child wakes up until the school day begins, ensuring good cognitive activation”.

This research reveals that brain regions that have been associated with sleep in children include temporal regions (inferior temporal gyrus, fusiform gyrus), parietal (superior parietal cortex, supramarginal gyrus, postcentral gyrus, precuneus), frontal (superior medial frontal gyrus) and subcortical (hippocampus) and highlights the importance of seeking strategies to improve sleep quality at the cognitive level in the stages of child development.

To reach these conclusions, the authors have carried out a “objective and highly detailed sleep measurement” through accelerometers included in smart bracelets that the school children wore during the study and have obtained “high quality” images of their brain through magnetic resonance imaging carried out at Cimcyc, according to the UGR.