Children living in foster care may have a higher risk of developing insomnia, and this can lead to long-term mental and physical health problems, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Georgia.
The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 24 adults who lived in foster care to learn more about their sleep patterns before entering care, while living in care and after they entered adulthood. They published their findings in Children and Youth Services Review. Learn more about drug-free solutions for sleep issues here.
Poor sleep can make it difficult for children to pay attention in school or form healthy social relationships, but it can also contribute to chronic health problems like depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“A lot of children in foster care have experienced physical or mental abuse prior to entering care, and we know that this can lead to insomnia caused by post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Rachel A. Fusco, an associate professor in UGA’s School of Social Work and lead author of the study. “But foster care may also involve moving into new homes multiple times, and that can make children feel unsafe…they begin to associate bed time with fear and uncertainty.”
They found that a substantial number of study participants suffered from poor sleep during their time in foster care, experiencing nightmares or a pervasive fear of darkness.