The sleep? It is health especially for the little ones


The sleep?  It is health especially for the little ones.  Beware of social jet lag - Corriere della Sera

Too often, we sleep too little. And the use of smartphones, tablets and PCs does not help. Studies show harmful effects on adults and children

remember that You have to sleep. This might be the healthiest warning for all of us who live in a society so steeped in the culture of hyperconnection. Use of smartphones, tablets and PCs at all hours and the frenetic and performative rhythms on which our daily lives are based do not help to have a good quality of sleep, which from an early age is essential for physical and mental health, comments Lino Nobili, director of Child Neuropsychiatry at Gaslini Pediatric Hospital of Genoa and vice-president of the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine. Insomnia, which consists of difficulty falling asleep at night or having nocturnal awakenings or getting up very early in the morning, is the most common sleep disorder in childhood and adolescence. Symptoms vary with age.

Difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep, due for example to nocturnal awakenings, concern up to 30% of preschoolers and they tend to decrease after the third or fourth year – says Oliviero Bruni, director of the child neuropsychiatry unit at Rome’s Sant’Andrea Hospital, which includes a clinic for sleep disorders -. Sleep disorders related to nocturnal fears are more frequent from 6 to 11 years of age with a prevalence of around 15%. In adolescence, on the other hand, there is a delay in falling asleep with a reduction in the hours of sleep which affects approximately 20 to 25% of boys. This behavior yes considerably increased in recent years because we go to bed very late at the weekend with a recovery of sleep during the day giving rise to a phenomenon called “social jet lag”. The advent of smartphones has further aggravated this evil.


The Novella Fronda Foundation of Padua launched a campaign sleep education which provides for remote meetings for parents, pediatricians, teachers and other actors involved in the education of children, as well as the dissemination via the institution’s Facebook and Instagram profiles of an online questionnaire intended for mothers and fathers on the sleeping habits of children in the 1-5 year old range. How many hours of sleep do children need and guys to recharge? The National Sleep Foundation in Washington recommends a minimum of 11 hours to a maximum of 14 hours between 1 and 2 years old, 10 to 13 hours between 3 and 5 years old, 9 to 11 hours between 6 and 13 years old, and 8 to 10 hours between 14 year. and 17 years old.

From a survey by Novella Fronda in 2016, out of approximately 2,800 interviews, it appears that in Italy 13.5% of children under 3 years old and 11.9% of those between 3 and 5 years oldfewer steps than the times indicated. While a 2021 research published in Nature human behavior reports that more than half of adolescents (14-17 years old) get less than 8-10 hours of rest per night. Preschool sleep deprivation leads to behavioral problems, such as increased hyperactivity, irritability and impulsivity – explains Nobili -. From the age of six, it is also manifested by daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and learning, a sadder mood and impaired metabolism, as lack of sleep increases appetite resulting in the consumption of foods higher in sugars and predisposing to obesity.

The himself as a teenager, continues Bruni: Not sleeping impedes the control action of the prefrontal cortex by promoting more aggressive behaviors, causes weight gain, leads to the use of stimulant substances to stay awake, delaying bedtime, and medications which they induce in sleep, due to the resulting difficulty in falling asleep. Long-term sleep deprivation, especially situations of fragility and discomfort may contribute to depression, suicidal intentions, drug use. Why is sleep good? Nocturnal rest allows the brain to fix the information learned in the waking state, to transform short-term memories into long-term memories and to cleanse itself of the toxic waste produced by its cells thanks to the intervention of the glymphatic system, explains Nobili.

For a cgood sleep hygiene there are a few rules to follow, which Bruni sums up: Get the child used to always falling asleep at the same time, so as not to alter the production of wakefulness and sleep hormones, and in the same environment, for the to help reconcile rest. Respect meal times do not delay falling asleep and never use electronic devices after dinner because they reactivate attention. Reduce the amount of animal fats and proteins at the evening meal, which take longer to digest. Avoid letting children sleep in the big bed after 6 months so that they learn to manage the rest time on their own.

Whereas in boys, the most important factor in regulating sleep-wake rhythm physical activity, which however should not be practiced late at night as it delays falling asleep due to the high levels of adrenaline it releases. But insomnia, underlines the neuropsychiatrist, is not only the symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle or a temporary psychological state of anxiety and stress. It can also be a disorder in itself, of genetic origin. When, while correcting habits, insomnia persists, help should be sought. The first character to contact the family pediatrician who – concludes Bruni – will be able to prescribe a specialized visit to the neurologist or child neuropsychiatry.