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Sleep and Adolescent School Children A Perspective from the UAE

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Dr Sunny Kurian    20 January 2017

Challenges due to lack of sleep include:• Inattentiveness in class and decreased scholastic performance.• Inability to self-regulate with poor control over emotions/ impulse/aggressive behavior/temper. In fact, some of the sleep deprived display symptoms mimicking ADHD.• Substance use and risky behavior.• Inability to complete task and assignments on time.• Mood changes especially depression, sometimes predisposing to early mental illness.• Obesity and later risk of diabetes.• Dependence on sleep medication and anxiety relieving drugs.Suggestions and Possible Way ForwardAt school: For middle and high schools• Later start to school time.• More brightly lit classrooms. • No test early in the morning.• Subjects like mathematics, science and reading to be put later in the day.• Explore the possibility of getting into a nap time (15-20 min) into the school schedule.• Initiate classes on sleep health for the students.At home• Set a sleep time table and sleep discipline and make it a point to stick to it.• The ritual toward sleep should start at least 2 hours before the intended sleep time.• Dimming of lights and reduction of loud noises (loud music, TV, etc.) should start early.• Avoid stimulating foods/drinks such as tea, coffee, soda pop, chocolates… at least 6 hours before the sleep time.• Window blinds and curtains should be adequate to keep away external lights.• The bedroom and the bed should ideally be used to sleep/resting purposes only. Reading, watching TV and texting while in bed should be strongly discouraged and parents should set the example.• Avoid naps, which last more than 15-20 mins during day time because that would interfere with the child getting enough sleep at night.

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