Healthy sleep habits for kids’ devel­op­ment

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

Sleep plays an im­por­tant fac­tor in chil­dren’s growth and devel­op­ment. But re­cent world­wide stud­ies show a rise in breath­ing prob­lems, mi­graines and chronic fa­cial pain among chil­dren, all re­lated to sleep dis­or­ders.

In the UAE, ba­bies in prams and tots run­ning around malls late at night are a com­mon sight. Con­sul­tant neu­ropsy­chi­a­trist and med­i­cal di­rec­tor at The Lon­don Sleep Cen­tre Dubai, Dr Ir­shaad Ebrahim, says that though there aren’t ex­act sta­tis­tics yet in the UAE, it is es­ti­mated 50 per cent of chil­dren here are not get­ting the right amount of shut-eye.

He says: “There are some wor­ry­ing trends we have no­ticed - young chil­dren awake and get­ting stim­u­lated by the mall ex­pe­ri­ence; par­ents not be­ing dis­ci­plined with sleep and wake times; and let­ting their chil­dren use elec­tronic de­vices one hour be­fore bed­time.”

He ex­plains that dur­ing deep sleep growth, hor­mone se­cre­tion is at its high­est. At this stage of sleep, there are fac­tors ac­tively in­volved in devel­op­ment of the brain and body. Hence, a re­duc­tion in sleep can stunt devel­op­ment.

“De­creased quan­tity and poor qual­ity sleep can re­sult in inat­ten­tion, dis­tractibil­ity, day­time fa­tigue, poor con­cen­tra­tion and mood prob­lems in chil­dren,” he con­tin­ues.

More wor­ry­ingly, lack of sleep at a young age can also af­fect them as adults: “Long-term sleep prob­lems can lead to adult de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders and prob­lems with at­ten­tion, mem­ory and con­cen­tra­tion.”

Dr Ebrahim says chil­dren’s sleep pat­terns to­day are mostly dis­rupted by too much tech time.

“The sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor to­day is the over and in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of elec­tronic hand-held de­vices like smart­phones and iPads,” he says.

“The sec­ond fac­tor is an un­healthy diet that re­sults in obe­sity and con­di­tions such as sleep ap­noea - a con­di­tion that causes the throat or up­per air­way to col­lapse, pre­vent­ing oxy­gen from go­ing through the lungs and caus­ing shal­low breath­ing or breath­ing pauses - di­a­betes, and meta­bolic syn­drome.”

Dr Ebrahim ad­vises par­ents to man­age their chil­dren’s sleep habits early. “Chil­dren take their lead from the par­ents - if they are not dis­ci­plined about rou­tine at home, it is not sur­pris­ing the chil­dren will fol­low and have poor sleep rou­tine as well.”

LIKE A BABY: A study pub­lished in Mid­dle East Cur­rent Psy­chi­a­try found 33.6 per cent of 146 chil­dren stud­ied aged four to 12 have sleep re­lated dis­or­ders. See lon­don­sleep­cen­

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