Sleep and healing in children

Medical sociologist Cary Brown says more research is needed to explore the relationship between lack of sleep and children with chronic health problems.

While it’s not a newsflash that we all feel better after a good night’s sleep, medical sociologist Cary Brown of the University of Alberta says it is surprising how few pediatric experts are mindful of the connection.

Brown’s research focuses on the connection between lack of sleep and illness in children. According to a UA press release on her work, the lack of restorative sleep hasn’t been fully examined in terms of its impact on children with chronic health conditions.

Health-care providers in general do not consider the effects of sleep deprivation on children with chronic health conditions and if they have, there are few resources to assist both them and parents with intervention strategies.

Image Credit: Dave Mclear

In response, Dr. Brown has launched a website to help occupational therapists make the connection between illness and sleep-deprivation. The website should be helpful for parents, too. It offers non-pharmaceutical strategies to help young people sleep better: getting the right body temperature, light and noise level for sleep, and going to bed at a set time. Some of these things may seem obvious but, again, Brown reiterated to the University of Alberta press office that many pediatric experts are not making the connection between illness, and lack of sleep. Brown said:

Health-care providers can’t always guide people as to what they can do for themselves in terms of restorative sleep. The idea of sleep deprivation is not commonly imbedded in the health-care curriculum. We have a wealth of research showing children’s physical and emotional health, development and ability to learn are all negatively affected by sleep. Once health-care providers are aware of this issue, they are eager to find sleep solutions to promote health and function.

That’s according to medical sociologist Cary Brown of the University of Alberta, who says that lack of restorative sleep has not been fully examined in terms of its impact on children with chronic health conditions.

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