Informants / Khorasan Razavi For many children, the period between childhood and early adolescence can be a challenging time; This transitional period is often referred to as the “pre-adolescence” period and can be a vulnerable time for developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
According to Medical Express, many of our teens need support to get through this time of growing up. Improving your teen’s sleep behavior can be one tool for doing this.
Adequate and quality sleep is very important for the mental and physical health of all people from infancy to old age. On the other hand, suffering from sleep problems such as insomnia, frequent nightmares, and breathing problems during sleep are associated with poor mental health.
“We wanted to understand the role of a wide range of sleep problems on the emotional and behavioral well-being of pre-adolescent children,” said Rebecca Cooper, from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
We analyzed data from a longitudinal study of more than 10,000 children and their parents or caregivers ages 9 to 11, and assessed again two years later at ages 11 to 13; Parents and their caretakers were asked about usual sleep patterns, sleep problems and any changes in sleep, as well as emotional and behavioral problems their children were experiencing.
During pre-adolescence, people were categorized into sleep groups based on the type and severity of sleep problems they experienced. For example, one in four teens has very low levels of sleep disturbances; Whereas the majority (about 2 in 5 pre-adolescents or 42%) experienced moderate levels of a range of problems.
The minority group experienced particularly high levels of difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep through the night (about one in seven, or 16 percent) or generally high levels of sleep problems (17 percent).
These groups differ in the levels of emotional and behavioral problems they encounter. Those with more severe sleep problems reported more emotional and behavioral problems. These problems range from withdrawal and anxiety to states of aggression and lawbreaking.
When these adolescents were assessed two years later, a significant change in the prevalence of general sleep problems was seen. The number of adolescents who had particular difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep constituted a third of the sample, and a third had a low level of problems. On the other hand, one in five people have moderate levels of various problems (less than 42%).
For most teens, the sleep pattern hasn’t changed during this transition period. However, a few teens showed improvement or deterioration in their sleep.
It is noteworthy that as adolescents experienced an increase in their sleep problems, they also experienced an increase in emotional and behavioral problems.
This effect was much stronger for emotional problems (such as feeling anxious or depressed), highlighting the importance of a good night’s sleep for adolescents’ emotional health. When teens’ sleep problems improved, so did their mental health.
Our findings suggest that treating sleep problems can be an effective way to improve mental health symptoms in adolescents, highlighting the importance of good sleep for their mental health and may have long-term benefits during adolescence and beyond.
From infants to the elderly, studies show the benefits of healthy sleep for mental and emotional health and can help protect against a wide range of mental disorders.
Other research findings show that good sleep supports physical health, school performance, and cognition, and can reduce high-risk behaviors such as substance use and drink driving (drugs and alcohol).
Good sleep can also be modeled; Research results show that in families where parents sleep well, teens are more likely to get a good night’s sleep. As a parent or caregiver, there are practical ways to support your teen’s sleep patterns, as described below:
1. Regular physical activity and exposure to daylight can help regulate the circadian rhythm of young teens.
2. Encourage your teen to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine can delay their bedtime and make it more difficult to get up in the morning.
3. Encourage your teen to engage in a quiet activity before bed. Try removing screens from the bedroom and reducing screen-based activities at night.
4. Encourage a regular sleep schedule of going to bed and waking up at a set time each day.
5. Seek medical advice for any sleep problems.
Our findings indicate that ensuring and supporting good sleep habits during the pre-teen years will continue to benefit their mental and physical health as they grow into their teens and young adults.
So saying “no” to those extra 15 minutes on the phone or “just five more minutes” in front of the TV is worth it to ensure your little ones get a good night’s sleep.
The results of this research were recently published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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