Giving Compass' Take:

• The consequences of sleep deprivation are most severe among vulnerable populations, particularly children, whose developing minds and bodies are especially susceptible to damage.

• How can donors work to ensure there are robust efforts to help migrant children?

• Here's how sleep deprivation can be helped with the simple solution of better pillows. 

Pictures of detention centers at the U.S.–Mexico border are deeply troubling, including images of hordes of children sleeping on the floor, huddled together under nothing but Mylar blankets. What's also troubling, but often overlooked, is the fact that the children are required to sleep under glaring lights.

These children are entering the country at a rate of thousands per month and are placing enormous stress on the limited resources in place to take care of them. The children have been exposed to a wide range of significant hardships, including separation from parents, extreme stress, and lack of access to sanitary and hygienic needs, such as toothbrushes and soap. While keeping lights on 24 hours a day is considered a necessary safety precaution, it may be at the expense of a fundamental aspect of human physiology closely connected with health and well-being: sleep.

Virtually every organism on Earth, from the humblest of fruit flies to humans, has an internal circadian clock that is closely aligned with the 24-hour light-dark cycles. Disruption of these cycles, via light exposure during the sleep period, can have profound effects on sleep, as well as physical and mental health.

Read the full article about how sleep deprivation affects migrant children by Wendy M. Troxel and Douglas C. Ligor at RAND Corporation.