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University of Houston opens Sleep and Anxiety Center for Kids
Date:1/10/2012

Children who have chronic sleep problems may be much more likely to develop mental health disorders as adolescents and adults, according to Candice Alfano, associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Houston (UH) and director of the new Sleep and Anxiety Center for Kids (SACK).

To address this problem and further research in the area, Alfano opened SACK, a clinical research center at UH that provides low-cost, empirically based evaluation and treatment services for children and adolescents who struggle with anxiety and/or sleep disorders. "Several research studies also are being conducted at SACK, which means that many of the families calling (on behalf of their children) will qualify to participate in a study where they will get top-of-the-line treatment at no cost," Alfano said.

"We know from previous research that anxiety and sleep problems are among the most common in kids, affecting up to 30 percent of youth," she said. "Despite their high prevalence, there is little research taking place to teach us how exactly sleep and mental health disorders are related. What we do know is that this relationship is much more complex than simply saying these problems co-occur. If we can identify the kids who are most likely to be anxious or depressed, perhaps based on the earlier emergence of sleep problems, then we can intervene before these disorders take hold."

In addition to the possibility of developing mental health problems later, chronically insufficient sleep in children has been found to have negative effects on performance in school, extracurricular activities and social functioning. Inadequate sleep may interfere with a child's ability to concentrate and follow directions, and is continually linked with behavior problems, irritability, accidents and injuries, and conflict in relationships with family and friends.

"There are some kids who have a tough time 'shutting off' at night and blocking out
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Contact: Melissa Carroll
mcarroll@uh.edu
713-743-8153
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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University of Houston opens Sleep and Anxiety Center for Kids
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