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.

“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.