Monday February 18, 2019

Good quality sleep can reduce the negative consequences of stress in kids

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Toronto: Good quality of eight to nine hours sleep every night, clubbed with other healthy lifestyle behaviours, can reduce the negative consequences of stress in kids, suggests new research.

M_Id_401088_Kids_SleepGetting a good night’s sleep might buffer the impact of stress on kids’ cortisol level, which is a hormone produced in the adrenal gland to regulate the body’s metabolic, cardiovascular and immune systems.

While short-term exposure to cortisol prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response, long-term exposure to cortisol can put people at risk for health problems, like heart diseases, weight gain and depression.

It is important that parents educate their kids at an early age about the importance of consistent and healthy sleep habits,” said lead author of the study Jinshia Ly from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

For the study, the research team recruited 220 kids aged eight to 18 years old. The participants gave saliva samples from which their cortisol levels were measured.

The kids and their parents also answered questions about stress, sleep habits and bedtime routines.

The researchers found that poorer sleep quality, regardless of how long kids spent sleeping, promoted the negative effects of stress on their cortisol levels.

Sleeping throughout the night without waking up, feeling rested in the morning, and absence of sleep problems, such as nightmares, apnea and snoring, are examples of a better quality sleep,” Ly noted.

The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

(with inputs from IANS)

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Immersive VR Can Help Kids Overcome Autism Phobias

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults

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Virtual Reality
A hospital patient uses virtual reality treatment for pain in this undated photo. VOA

Exposing children and adults with autism to immersive virtual reality (VR) can help alleviate their fears and phobias, say researchers.

A team from the UK’s Newcastle University developed ‘Blue Room’, a virtual environment, which requires no goggles. Here a person can comfortably investigate and navigate through various scenarios working with a therapist using iPad controls but remain in full control of the situation.

“For many children and their families, anxiety can rule their lives as they try to avoid the situations which can trigger their child’s fears or phobias,” said Professor Jeremy Parr from Newcastle’s Institute of Neuroscience.

“To be able to offer a treatment that works, and see the children do so well, offers hope to families who have very few treatment options for anxiety available to them,” Parr added.

Autism can affect a child’s learning and development, often resulting in impaired social and communication skills and many also have fears or phobias which can be very distressing but are often overlooked.

Inventions
Toybox founder Arlene Mulder views a project that their tech innovation hub was involved in, a Virtual Reality exhibition at a Johannesburg art gallery. VOA

For the study, detailed in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the team involved a small group of children with autism aged 8-14 years. Half received treatment in the ‘Blue Room’ straight away and half acted as a control group, receiving delayed treatment six months later.

“People with autism can find imagining a scene difficult which is why the ‘Blue Room’ is so well-received. We are providing the feared situation in a controlled way through VR and we are sitting alongside them to help them learn how to manage their fears,” explained Morag Maskey, researcher from Newcastle.

Also Read- AI Helping Differently-abled to Become More Independent: Microsoft

The results showed that overall 40 per cent of children treated showed improvement at two weeks, and 45 per cent at six months.

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults. (IANS)