According to CNN, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that children in elementary school who took mindfulness training twice a week for two years slept an extra 74 minutes each night, on average.
This extra sleep included 24 minutes of extra rapid eye movement (REM), an important sleep stage when memories are merged and saved. “Rapid eye movement is a very important phase of sleep for neuronal development and for the development of the cognitive and emotional function,” said Ruth O’Hara, professor in the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Stanford University.
The study found that improvements in sleep began in the first three months of training, and results bettered with more participation.
On the other hand, children who did not participate in mindfulness training lost an average of 64 minutes of sleep over the study’s two-year period. “It makes intuitive sense that children who didn’t participate in the curriculum decreased their sleep, based on what we know about what it’s like to be a kid this age,” explained postdoctoral scholar in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, Christina Chick.
Sleep is important for everyone, particularly for children. Children and teenagers who do not get enough sleep are at higher risk for health issues like obesity, mental health problems, type 2 diabetes, general injuries, and attention or behavior problems.
A 2015 CDC study found that most middle school and high school students are not getting the recommended amount of sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called the lack of sleep amongst the majority of children an “epidemic”.
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