For World Sleep Day, which falls on March 18, the Children’s Health Foundation provides information about sleep problems in teens and what parents can do about them.
Adequate and restful sleep is an essential foundation for the growth and health of children and adolescents. However, many children and young adults don’t get enough sleep, the Children’s Health Foundation complains in a recent statement: They sleep poorly, wake up too often or too early at night, and feel weak in the morning rather than refreshed and start a new grumpy and tired day. According to current studies, every eighth of the 12-17 year old suffers from a chronic lack of sleep. Good sleep is also unfairly distributed: girls are more often affected by sleep deprivation than boys.
Teens’ need for sleep decreases with age, according to the Children’s Health Foundation. While 3- or 4-year-olds still sleep about 11.5 hours, the duration of nighttime sleep is reduced to about 10.5 hours by the time they start school. Primary school age children still sleep about 9.5 hours. However, young adults also need an average of 9 hours of sleep. Many young people and their parents are often unaware of this. Only at the age of 17 to 18 years does the need to sleep from 7 to 8 hours a day stop.
In order to determine a child’s actual need for sleep, it is helpful to keep a sleep diary for two weeks during school holidays, the Children’s Health Foundation recommends. You write exactly when the child goes to bed and when he wakes up on his own in the morning. This shows how much sleep is really needed in order for you to get a good amount of rest.
Good sleep makes you smart and slim
Says Professor Dr. “Lack of sleep leads to daytime sleepiness, impairs the ability to focus and memory, and often leads to poor school performance,” said Berthold Kollitzko, president of the Children’s Health Foundation. “Lack of sleep makes some children nervous or even aggressive.”
Lack of sleep at a young age can also have long-term consequences, according to a report by the Children’s Health Foundation: Growth hormone, which is needed for bone growth, is produced during sleep. As a result, some children who sleep for very short periods or consistently poorly may not reach the length they would have if they got enough sleep.
A particularly dangerous finding of sleep disorders has come into the focus of science in recent years, the effect of sleep on body weight. Professor Berthold Kolitzko says: “Several studies have shown that inadequate sleep duration is associated with an increased rate of overweight and obesity in children. A longer sleep period may be a beneficial factor in keeping the body weight balanced.”
Sleep Hazards: Excessive Media Use
The Children’s Health Foundation complains that many young people are taken to bed by televisions, cell phones and smartphones, preventing them from sleeping. The consequences are easy to imagine: as a study by the University of Koblenz-Landau in Landau in the Palatinate showed, young people who got up at night through their smartphones, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were more often tired during the day and tended to be carefree. To take a nod in class.
The results of the Landau study are consistent with data identified in the German Health of Trainees (DAG) study published in 2015 with more than 13,000 trainees aged between 16 and 25 years. This study also found that young adults who consume a lot of media are less rested and productive, miss school and work more often, have trouble sleeping more often and have a lower level of well-being. They also exercise less, drink more caffeinated beverages, and sleep less and more.
Blue light blocks the sleep hormone
Another study by scientists from California showed that simply having a “small screen” near the bed of young adults, such as a smartphone or tablet, reduces sleep time by 20.6 minutes. Obviously, one of the reasons for the sleep-killing effect of devices is the blue light emitted by their LED screens. Bright light suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls the internal clock, making you tired and promoting sleep.
LED screens found in most digital media contain higher levels of blue light. As a result, looking at screens in the evening and at night causes you to fall asleep later, slowing your internal clock and thus increasing fatigue the next morning — with consequences for performance at school and work.
Good sleep – better grades
However, restful sleep makes you smarter: during a night’s rest, the brain regulates learning experiences during the day and works to solve problems. On the other hand, lack of sleep leads to memory gaps, reduces daytime work performance by 25 percent and, by damaging the immune system, makes people more susceptible to disease.
A recently published study by Dutch scientists at Leiden University, in which 1,400 students were interviewed, confirmed it. It revealed chronic sleep deprivation in every third student. These students were more likely to have concentration problems and performed worse on exams than their well-rested peers.
In order to reduce consumption of harmful media among young people, smartphone use should be regulated as clearly as possible, the Children’s Health Foundation recommends. An important starting point for greater performance and better well-being is to forgo digital media in the last two to three hours before bed and more at night.
Those who sleep well are healthier, more successful, and live longer: Studies have shown that people who sleep seven to nine hours a night are less likely to die than those who sleep less. In contrast, people with insomnia are five times more likely to have a serious accident at home, at work, or on the road in one year than those who sleep well.
Ten tips for a healthy sleep
The German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescents (DGKJ) has created the following list to promote sleep in primary school children for the information of their parents:
- Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. Sleep rituals, such as singing a song, listening to calming music, or telling a story, for example, encourage this regularity.
- The child sleeps only when he is tired.
- Bedtime should be a pleasure, not a punishment.
- bed to sleep. Children should not read, play, watch TV, or wander in bed.
- There should be enough time between the evening meal and going to bed. Eating a light diet can promote sleep.
- Children should generally avoid caffeinated drinks.
- Sports or exciting activities like TV, computer games, exciting reading, etc. before going to bed prevent restful sleep.
- Disturbing light sources, noise, and temperature extremes in a child’s bedroom should be eliminated or minimized. In short: the atmosphere has to be right.
- Is it possible for your baby to sleep poorly at night because naps are no longer necessary?
- Much of the day’s information is processed at night – dreaming is normal. A child gets a good rest when he wakes up quickly and actively participates in activities during the day.
Source: Children’s Health Foundation