Kids turning into zombies? Here's what to do
Pupils are getting way too little sleep, study finds
Is your teen walking around like a zombie? Adolescents with symptoms of insomnia and depression may be spending too much time on screens, a new study shows.
Setting screen rules may improve sleep and reduce depression, said Dr Lauren Hale from Stony Brook University Hospital.
“Greater amounts of daily screen time are associated with more insomnia symptoms (like falling and staying asleep) and shorter sleep duration among adolescents,” she said.
Nearly half of South Africans pre-teens don’t get enough sleep, a study in 20 schools has found. Of 472 girls and boys aged nine to 11 surveyed, 41% got less than the nine hours they need.Dr Dale Rae of the University of Cape Town and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, who led this research, said: “This is a concern because children need sleep for growth and cognitive development.”
Early wake-up times on school days and late bedtimes were identified as causes of this problem.
Inappropriate screen use is another common cause of insufficient sleep and teachers are observing the signs of this in teen body language, like lounging or even lying down on chairs.
Social messaging, web surfing, watching TV and movies, and gaming are popular among adolescents, but they disrupt “high quality restorative sleep”, the team of US researchers warned.
For the survey 2,800 adolescents around 16 years old were interviewed.
Parents and teachers should educate pupils about regulating their screen time, the study’s authors recommended.
In other preliminary research presented at SLEEP 2018 in the US this week, school athletes were identified as being at risk of sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
“Sleep paralysis and dream-like hallucinations as you are falling asleep or waking up are widespread in school athletes and are independently associated with symptoms of depression,” reported the authors.
Nearly 20% (about one in five) of the 189 athletes in the study reported occasional sleep paralysis and about seven percent reported this at least once a week.
“Hypnogogic/hypnopompic hallucinations (which are dream-like experiences that occur while falling asleep or waking up) were reported by 24% of the sample (about one in four pupils).”
“Eleven percent had these symptoms at least once per week.”
These pupils had a higher risk of depression compared to those who never had sleep paralysis or hallucinations.
Shorter sleep is widespread among school athletes because of the demands on them and poorer sleep quality.
“These symptoms are often thought to be relatively harmless and quite rare,” said senior author Dr Michael Grandner from the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
“But they can be very distressing to those who experience them, and they may be surprisingly common among school athletes,” said Grandner, adding that they could be a sign of more serious problems.