Does Sleep Matter
Newborn babies find it easy. Toddlers sometimes find it daunting. Teenagers are convinced they don't need it. Adults want it but frequently don't have the time for it. Seniors have time for it but often can't achieve it. Yet it's a simple fact that whatever your age, getting a good night's sleep is one of the best ways of staying happy and healthy. It's just as important as a good diet and regular exercise. That's why Philips and the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep (ACES) have developed a Sleep Module for its SimplyHealthy@Schools program. The module's message couldn't be simpler: children who sleep well grow healthy.
Time for sleep
As the pace of life increases and we pack more into each day, our sleep patterns have suffered. In fact, poor sleep quality is now considered to be pandemic throughout the world. That makes teaching children about the importance of a good night's sleep particularly important, because sleep patterns acquired in childhood often feed through into adulthood. For example, recent research suggests that poor sleep patterns during childhood can delay children's physical and mental growth,
make them more prone to infections and lead to childhood and adult obesity.
So what is a good night's sleep? Well the answer depends on how old you are. For example, newborn babies rarely sleep through the night, typically waking at least once for a feed. In the course of an average day they'll typically sleep for a total of around 16 hours. As they grow, the amount of sleep they need each day progressively falls from between 11 and 13 hours during their pre-school years to 8 to 10 hours in adolescence. However, as any experienced parent knows, convincing a teenager that they should go to bed at 10 pm to wake bright and breezy for the next day at 8 am is wishful thinking. The majority of teenagers are far too convinced that there are more exciting things to do in life than sleep! During adulthood, most of us need between seven and nine hours.
Quality and quantity
It's not just how long you sleep that matters. The quality of your sleep is just as important. Every night you need to go through several stages of sleep - falling peacefully into a deep sleep and periodically returning to so-called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep before entering another period of deep sleep or waking up. During REM sleep,( which is when we dream) your brain is quite active, which is believed to be due to the brain consolidating recently learned information and transferring it into long-term memory. That's one of the reasons why, we need both deep and REM sleep, because the right type of sleep, as well as the right amount of sleep, is so important for school children.
If you're going to impress the importance of sleep quality on children before those difficult teenage years, the 8 to 12 year age range targeted by Philips' SimplyHealthy@Schools program is the right time to do it. That's why Philips has added high quality sleep to the hidden powers that the children have to discover in order to make the program's Healthy Heroes fit and healthy.The SimplyHealthy@Schools Sleep Module was developed in collaboration with leading sleep researcher Dr Sarah Blunden, Founder and Director of the Paediatric Sleep Clinic and the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep™ (ACES) and Associate Professor of Paediatric Sleep at Central Queensland University. In addition to helping children understand why sleep is so important, the module's assignments also allow the children to identify bad habits that might prevent them from getting a good night's sleep, such as reading under the covers until late or eating the wrong type of food close to bedtime. Through play-acting, they learn to recognise someone who is sleeping peacefully or someone whose sleep is constantly disturbed. There are class discussions, interactive group activities and there's even a session on relaxation therapy.
Special Module on Sleep, including its assignments, Parent's Guide and Teachers Guide and all drawings, is (c) Dr. Sarah Blunden and Philips International B.V. The authors allow non-commercial use, provided that this authorship notice is included; that the guide is used in its entirety, without abridgement or omission of any part, including the drawings, and that the user allows the authors to publicise the use. Permission on these terms is obtained automatically by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including contact information for the user and a brief description of (or link to) the use.
Associate Professor Sarah Blunden, Founder and Director of the Paediatric Sleep Clinic (Adelaide, South Australia) and the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep™ (ACES) and Head of Paediatric Sleep Research at Central Queensland University.
According to leading sleep researcher Dr Sarah Blunden, who partnered with Philips put together the new Sleep Module for its SimplyHealthy@Schools program, the effect on young children of not getting enough sleep is not what you might think it would be.
"Rather than falling asleep during the day, young children who don't get enough sleep typically become hyperactive, with a tendency to get angry faster, be more aggressive and have poor attention spans," she says. "As a result, they are often mislabeled as 'difficult children'."
Her research also shows that it's not just a child's behavior that is affected.
"Poor sleep can result in memory and attention lapses, difficulty learning and with school work, you can get sick more often and have more accidents and even be more likely to be overweight".
However, one of the problems associated with today's busy lifestyles is that sleep takes second place.
"In the 24-hour society that we live in we have found that even children as young as five are foregoing sleep in order to do things that they consider more important," says Dr Blunden. "Yet we know that if someone suffers poor sleep as a young child, their sleep problems can stay with them through their school years and into adulthood."
That makes getting the good sleep message across as early as possible especially important, which is why Philips teamed up with Dr Blunden to develop a new sleep module for the company SimplyHealthy@Schools child learning program.
"Through initiatives such as SimplyHealthy@Schools, Philips not only has the commitment but also the resources and infrastructure to get healthy lifestyle messages out to the community. When it comes to getting across the importance of sleep, that's a passion that I share with them," she says.
"Helping children to learn about sleep and showing them what they can do to improve it and make themselves feel better is a really nice exercise."