How just 39 minutes of sleep can make or break your child’s health, happiness, and school day

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One of the keys to keeping your little one happy and healthy is making sure they consistently get enough sleep, a new study finds.

This is no surprise to parents, right? But it turns out that even 39 minutes can make a difference showed the results.

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At the study, published on Wednesday (15) in Jama Network Open, researchers monitored 100 children aged 8 to 12 years living in New Zealand. The children alternated between a week of going to bed an hour earlier and an hour later – with a week of regular bedtime in between.

Then, using a questionnaire, the children and their parents assessed their daytime sleep disturbances and impairments. The researchers also administered a questionnaire to the children about their health-related quality of life.

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Children who participated in the study regularly slept between eight and 11 hours a night and were considered generally healthy, the study said.

After a week of experiencing 39 minutes less sleep a night, children reported lower overall well-being and ability to cope with school, the study said.

“We all know that we feel better with a good night’s sleep, but there’s very little data using experimental designs that really show (how) big the impact can be,” said study lead author Rachael Taylor, per e -mail. “This kind of interventional data is the only way to ‘prove’ that changing one behavior actually affects another.”

The study covered many aspects of well-being, including an assessment of how children felt physically and psychologically in their relationships with parents and peers, and how they felt about school, said Rachael, a research professor of medicine at the University of Otago. in New Zealand.

The assessment included questions about whether the children felt they were able to pay attention in school and felt physically fit, and whether they had the energy to have fun and spend time with their friends.

Not all children were able to cut back on sleep for the entire hour of the study, said the expert. But any amount they cut caused a decline in their well-being, she said. And the impacts were greater if study participants lost half an hour or more of sleep, she added.

“We haven’t seen these kinds of studies look at quality of life or health-related quality of life outcomes, which we know are really important because it’s often something that can really resonate with families, teachers, public health officials, when we think about how it’s important to promote healthy sleep,” said Ariel Williamson, pediatric sleep specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Ariel, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, was not involved in the research.

prioritizing sleep

The children in the study were monitored from July 4 to September 1, 2022, and questions remain about long-term impacts, Rachael said.

“We don’t know what the long-term effect might be – maybe the children will adapt, maybe they won’t and their well-being will deteriorate further,” Rachael said in an email.

In the meantime, she advised families “not to underestimate the value of sleep and to prioritize sleep as much as possible.”

It can be easy to avoid a little lost sleep, but getting less good quality sleep can result in eating more sweet foods, worse school performance and lower mental health, added Rachael.

And while adequate and sufficient sleep is important, it’s also crucial to make an individualized plan for your family, Ariel said.

Some children with neurodevelopmental differences, such as autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, have variations in sleep needs, for example, or work schedules or activities can make it difficult to get to bed as early as you’d like your child to be. , she added.

If you think your child could benefit from more sleep, Ariel recommends starting slowly and even pushing bedtime back 15 minutes.

And quality is just as important as quantity. For more restful sleep, she recommends that kids have the same bedtime every night (even on weekends), turn off screens 30 minutes before bed, and stick to a bedtime routine, she added.

For some kids, that might mean calming activities that get them to bed, but for other kids, that might mean dancing or stretching to get their bodies ready, Williamson said.

Some families may prioritize the bath, book and bed routine for younger children, but older children and even adults can benefit from following a schedule that alerts the brain and body that it’s time to settle down, she said.

“I sometimes think that if we focused more on sleep, many other aspects of children’s health and well-being would be greatly improved,” said Rachael. After all, she said, who doesn’t like a good night’s sleep?

Source: CNN Brasil

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