Mindfulness training helps children sleep better

Children around the world are suffering from stress. The COVID pandemic has certainly introduced more stressors, including fear of the disease, food insecurity as a result of loss of income, disrupted schooling, home and community violence and crowded homes.  These conditions are a recipe for poor sleep.

A study from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that at-risk children (more than 1 000 Grade 3 and Grade 5 learners) gained more than an hour of sleep per night after participating in a mindfulness curriculum at their primary schools. This research is available online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The curriculum did not instruct children on how to get more sleep but instead taught them how to relax and manage stress by focusing their attention on the present.  The result was that the children slept, on average, 74 minutes more per night than they had before they received the Mindfulness training. They also showed a gain of almost half an hour of REM (Rapid Eye Movements) sleep. This sleep includes dreaming and helps consolidate memories and is a very important phase of sleep for the development of neurons and for developing cognitive and emotional functioning.

In order to fall asleep we need to relax, which is difficult to do when under stress and also lacking security and safety.  Mindfulness exercises feature slow, deep breathing, and yoga-based movement.  It does not include lessons of sleep-improvement techniques, such as maintaining consistent bedtimes and so on.

The researchers used the Pure Power Curriculum developed by a nonprofit organization called PureEdge.   Their website offers a variety of easily accessible, free educational resources and curricula which are available to any non-profit entity that strives to improve the lives of educators and learners.

Knowing the many benefits of Mindfulness, schools and families are encouraged to learn more about the techniques involved in order to help ourselves and our children to acquire a valuable lifeskill.




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