Is your child getting enough sleep?

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Children sleep an hour less today than 30 years ago – and it’s having a dramatic effect on their intelligence, behaviour and obesity levels according to surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, yet 90% of American parents think their child is getting enough sleep.

“It is an overlooked fact that children get an hour less sleep every night than they did 30 years ago. While modern parents obsess about their babies’ sleep, this concern falls off the priority list after pre-school. Even pre-schoolers get 30 minutes less a night than they used to.

There are as many causes for this lost hour of sleep as there are types of family. Overscheduling of activities, homework, lax bedtimes, television sets and mobile phones in the bedroom all contribute. So does guilt; home from work after dark, ­parents want time with the children and are ­reluctant to order them to bed. All these reasons converge on the fact that until now, we could ignore the lost hour because we didn’t know the true cost to children.

However, sleep scientists have been able to isolate and measure the ­impact of this single lost hour. Because ­children’s brains are a work in progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn’t have on adults.

The surprise is not merely that sleep matters – but how much it ­matters, ­demonstrably, not just to academic performance and emotional stability, but to phenomena assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the ­international obesity ­epidemic and the rise of attention deficit ­hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Some scientists theorise that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a the brain structure – damage that a child can’t sleep off. It’s even ­possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of ­adolescence – moodiness, depression, and even binge-eating – are symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Several scholars have noted that many hallmark traits of modern ­adolescence – moodiness, impulsiveness, disengagement – are also symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Might our culture-wide perception of what it means to be a teenager be ­unwittingly skewed by the fact that they don’t get enough sleep?”

To read the full article go to => The Guardian

Here’s a really useful website all about sleep

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