Douglas team educates children about good bedtime habits


Spring has arrived bringing with it longer days and later nights. While staying up later may be appealing, the habit may have harmful consequences, especially for children.

According to Douglas researchers, even an hour less a day of sleep for children may lead to lack of focus, poor performance and potentially, behavioural problems. In an effort to curb bad habits, they are going to Montreal elementary schools to teach student the basics about sleep and why we need it.

“Previous research has shown an association between sleep and school performance,” says Douglas researcher, Reut Gruber PhD. “Our goal is to educate these children at a young age, so they can develop good routines, and prioritize their time, before they hit adolescence and are more distracted.”

Gruber, along with her students, Daniel Brouillette and Dana Sheshko, will discuss sleep over four sessions, using a combination of class projects and interactive experiments. Their goal is to make the children, aged 7 to 11, more aware of the importance of sleep and more attentive to their own sleep requirements.

“We want to transfer knowledge about sleep to these children and to the public in general,” adds Gruber. “This is much like the healthy eating campaign, where young children were targeted in an effort to develop good habits for future generations. We are seeing the negative impact of sleep deprivation on society’s mental and physical well being and we are hopeful that our programs will reverse this trend.”

Gruber is also involved with research programs examining the association between sleep and attention in infants, toddlers, children and adolescents, the role of sleep in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the genetics of sleep. Through sleep intervention programs at the Douglas, she is testing the hypothesis that treatment of sleep problems may improve the cognitive functioning and regulation of behavior of children with ADHD.