Study Shows That Teaching Children Mindfulness Can Improve Their Sleep

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that mindfulness teaches people to relax and reduce stress by focusing on current movements. These findings could help children sleep better.

Poor sleep can harm children as it causes poor performance, mood problems, overeating, impulsive behavior, learning difficulties, accidents, and behavioral issues. So the researchers looked into how mindfulness exercises for school children could impact their sleep patterns. First, they used polysomnography to monitor their brain activity.

Practicing mindfulness prolongs REM sleep

Researchers taught the children to deal with stress and relax by concentrating on the present for the study. However, it did not instruct them on how to sleep better. Despite this, results showed that children who underwent the program slept 74 minutes longer than before the study. In addition, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep was also longer.

According to a sleep expert, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, and a lead study author, Ruth O’Hara,

the children had about 30 minutes of REM sleep.

REM sleep consists of memory consolidation and dreaming. It is also essential for the development of emotional and cognitive functions. Moreover, neuronal growth occurs during this stage of sleep.

How researchers conducted the study

Researchers gathered 58 children to take part in the program and 57 to act as the control group. The children came from two different low-income areas in San Francisco Bay Area with a high crime rate.

Researchers made one location the control and gave the other the mindfulness program. Both the areas had a high crime rate. Their parents were also worried about things like unstable and crowded housing and food shortage.

The researchers tested their current sleep patterns and found that the control group had about 54 more minutes of sleep than those placed in the program before the study. In addition, the children were given three sleep assessments at their homes. The first assessment came before the mindfulness program, and the second came after a year. The last assessment came after two years.

Teachers at the children’s school taught the curriculum twice a week for two years. They taught them how to deal with stress without giving them tips such as consistent bedtime. By the end of the study, the trained group had achieved longer sleep times than the control group.

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