A study has recently suggested that children, who experience sleep disruptions following violent incidents in neighborhoods, struggle more to learn and perform academic tasks at school.
According to researchers, sleep disruption following violent incidents, increases the amount of the stress hormone cortisol.
"Both sleep and cortisol are connected to the ability to learn and perform academic tasks," said study lead author Jenni Heissel.
"Our study identifies a pathway by which violent crime may get under the skin to affect academic performance," Heissel added.
The study, conducted by researchers at Northwestern, New York University and DePaul University, found violent crime changes the sleep patterns of children living nearby, which increases the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the children's bodies the day immediately following the violent incident.
Both sleep disruption and increased cortisol have demonstrated a negative impact on academic performance.
They analysed sleep and stress hormones of 82 young people, aged 11 to 18, in a large Midwestern city.
The students filled out daily diaries over four days, wore activity-tracking watches that measured sleep and had their saliva tested three times a day to check for cortisol.
They compared the students' sleep on nights following a violent crime to their sleep on nights when there were no violent crimes committed nearby.
They also compared students' cortisol on days following a violent crime to their stress hormones on days when there were no violent crimes committed nearby.
The students went to sleep later on nights when a violent crime occurred near their home, often resulting in fewer total hours of sleep.
The changes in sleep and cortisol were largest when the crime committed the previous day was homicide, they were moderate for assault and sexual assault and nonexistent for robbery.