New sleep study finds too many urban Latino students suffer from sleep problems

LatinaLista — Latino urban students have a host of challenges that keep them from doing well in school but thanks to a new study there may be one underlying root cause for not doing well — sleep.

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Actually, come to find out, thanks to a new study, it’s the lack of sleep that affects more urban Latino children than was previously thought.

The study, “Sleep Problems in Urban Minority Children May Be More Prevalent Than Previously Recognized,” found that 92 percent of the 160 5-and-6-year-old students enrolled in the study suffered from a sleep problem.

…parents reported the following behaviors were the specific sleep problems for their children: parasomnias, a group of sleep events that includes nightmares, sleepwalking and other events (51 percent); bedtime resistance (50 percent); shortened sleep duration (50 percent); daytime sleepiness (47 percent); night waking (41 percent); sleep-onset delay (27 percent); sleep anxiety (19 percent); and sleep-disordered breathing (11 percent).

Beverley J. Sheares, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University and one of the study’s authors was shocked by the findings:

“We expected to find behavioral sleep problems in this population, but we did not expect over 90 percent of the children in this community sample to have a behavioral sleep problem as indicated by the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ),” Dr. Sheares said. “While studies consistently show that 20 percent to 43 percent of school-aged children experience a range of sleep problems, there is mounting evidence, and our study supports this, suggesting that children from minority groups have significantly shorter sleep durations and increased sleep disruptions.”

The study’s authors write that they feel the next logical step is to conduct a “behavioral intervention” where the parents are educated on how to keep their kids from waking up.

No doubt, there are Latino parents who need some schooling themselves on several things, like: what is a proper bedtime — going to the grocery store at 9 p.m. in pajamas doesn’t mean the same thing as getting ready for bed — or when to cut off sweets and junk food so that sugar rush doesn’t come at 11 p.m.; or making sure that the kids aren’t watching dad’s or big sister’s scary movie right before they jump into bed — and the list goes on.

All of these examples are but a sampling of what some Latino parents let their kids do without a thought that there’s anything wrong with it. But as this study shows, there’s plenty wrong with it and the number one consequence is that their children will find school hard because they can’t stay awake to understand the lessons or do the work — and in the end, dropping out is the easy way out to make up for lost time.

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