More than 60% of New Brunswick youth not getting enough sleep: study
Use of screen devices before bedtime partly to blame for 'urgency of sleep deficit' for those 5 to 17
More than 60 per cent of children and youth in New Brunswick don't get enough sleep, which can affect their mental and physical health, lead to accidents, and contribute to the use of tobacco or other substances, a new study shows.
The recreational use of screen devices before bedtime is partly to blame for the "urgency of the sleep deficit," according to the report by the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC), released on Tuesday.
Such use has been shown to delay sleep, the five-year review found.
"Our research indicates that supporting children and youth to achieve adequate sleep has a beneficial effect" on the four priority health areas for them, NBHC's CEO Stéphane Robichaud said in a statement. Those include:
- Improving mental health
- Achieving healthy weights
- Preventing injuries
- Achieving tobacco-free living
"A sleep deficit tends to make them worse," he said, urging parents, schools and governments to continue their efforts to promote adequate sleep.
While eight hours of sleep is the minimum recommendation for adults, national guidelines suggest children and youth should get even more.
Children aged five to 13 should have between nine and 11 hours of sleep, while youth aged 14 to 17 should sleep eight to 10 hours per night, the report states.
Otherwise, they may experience poor mental health, such as feeling anxious or depressed, recalling gloomy memories rather than pleasant ones, and even mood disorders, the study found.
Lack of sleep can also result in hormonal changes, which can contribute to unhealthy weights, diabetes and hypertension, according to the report, entitled Children and Youth in N.B.: Looking Back to Look Forward.
In addition, sleep-deprived children and youth are less attentive and alert, and become more impulsive, which increases their risk of accidents and being injured, the 55-page report states.
They also have more difficulty managing stress, which makes them more likely to use of tobacco or other substances, the study found.
Trends indicate "slight improvement overall" in the four priority areas, said Robichaud, but "efforts are needed to sustain the gradual improvement achieved."
"Encouraging adequate sleep for children and youth is something everyone can do to help," he said.
NBHC is an independent organization that "measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick's health system performance through a citizen-centered dual mandate of performance measurement and citizen engagement," according to its website.