Healio Neurology spoke with Christina Chick, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, to learn more about her research on using mindfulness programs to help children sleep better.
Healio Neurology: What prompted this research?
Chick: For a lot of us, it is difficult to relax enough to fall asleep and children are no exception. Social media, homework and struggles with their peers or parents can all keep children up at night.
Most children in the United States are sleeping, on average, 2 hours less than the recommended amount per night and that adds up to a significant cost for their mental and physical health. When kids do not sleep enough, it is harder for them to regulate their emotions and, therefore, to regulate their behavior.
Decreases in sleep during the transition from childhood to adolescence are a normal part of development, but when kids are already not getting enough sleep, and their sleep then decreases further, it becomes much more of a concern. If we can help them to sleep longer and better, we would give them a head start for their emotional, physical and even cognitive health.