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If you suffer from sleep disorder, you are a likely candidate for many chronic ailments including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Sleep is important for all and children are no different. They too need their regular hours of peaceful sleep for proper growth and development. According to a new study at the University of Houston in the US, inadequate nighttime sleep alters several aspects of children's emotional health. Researchers came to this conclusion after studying 53 children between the ages of 7 to 11 years over more than a week. This study is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
The children completed an in-lab emotional assessment twice, once after a night of healthy sleep and again after two nights where their sleep was restricted by several factors. After sleep restriction, researchers saw changes in the way children experience, regulate and express their emotions. The multi-method assessment had children view a range of pictures and movie clips eliciting both positive and negative emotions while the researchers recorded how children responded on multiple levels. In addition to subjective ratings of emotion, researchers collected respiratory sinus arrhythmias (a non-invasive index of cardiac-linked emotion regulation) and objective facial expressions. The researchers pointed out the novelty of these data. Studies based on subjective reports of emotion are critically important, but they don't reveal much about the specific mechanisms through which insufficient sleep elevates children's psychiatric risk.
The research team highlights the implications of the findings for understanding how poor sleep might "spill over" into children's everyday social and emotional lives. The experience and expression of positive emotions are essential for children's friendships, healthy social interactions and effective coping. Children who experience poor sleep often have more peer-related problems, according to researchers.
Another important finding from the study is that the impact of sleep loss on emotion was not uniform across all children. Specifically, children with greater pre-existing anxiety symptoms showed the most dramatic alterations in emotional responding after sleep restriction. Researchers say that these results emphasize a potential need to assess and prioritize healthy sleep habits in emotionally vulnerable children.
Now that you know how important it is for your child to get proper sleep, you must do your bit to ensure this. This is not a herculean task and you can easily make sure that your child gets enough sleep just by being a little more conscious. Make sure that your child goes to bed at the same time every night and also wakes up at the same time in the morning. Indulge in some relaxing activity with your child before bedtime. You can read out a story to him or sing a lullaby. This will relax him and help him sleep better. Be sure to feed him enough food at the right time throughout the day. Sunlight is important. So some outdoor time is needed during the day too. And, most important of all, don't allow over extended nap times during the day.
(With inputs from IANS)
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