An emergency room physician completes her overnight shift in a busy, inner city emergency department. She stays an extra hour and a half to complete paperwork then goes home. Although exhausted, she’s “too wired” to sleep.
Eventually she dozes off but the phone calls from family and friends begin. She’s only able to get six hours of interrupted sleep before leaving home for the next shift. The ER physician is fatigued, irritable and frustrated.
“This sleep pattern takes a terrible toll in the short and long term,” says Judith Owens, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Shift work is associated with “deficient” sleep, meaning that both the amount and timing of sleep are altered. Our natural circadian rhythms result in humans being hardwired to sleep at night and be awake during the day, and the combination of this “misalignment” with insufficient sleep can be very problematic.” …Read More
Sometimes for a parent of a preschooler, it seems like bedtime cannot come soon enough, especially after a particularly challenging day. But while an early bedtime for young children may mean a break for harried parents, it can also have a positive impact on children’s health, even years later.
In a recent article published in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers Anderson, Andridge and Whitaker studied over 900 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years as part of a large national long-term study, Early Child Care and Youth Development. They found that about a quarter of the children had average bedtimes after 9pm as reported by parents, while another 25% had bedtimes before 8pm. When re-examined at around age 15 years, height and weight were measured in these same children and compared to age and gender-specific norms. The teens with late bedtimes as preschoolers were more than twice as likely to be obese compared to those with an early bedtime, even after accounting for known obesity-related factors such as birthweight and mother’s weight. The rate of obesity for the “intermediate bedtime” group (16%) was between that of the early and late bedtime groups (10% and 23% respectively). …Read More
Let’s face it, restless legs syndrome (also known as RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease) is not exactly a household word in most American families. And the notion that children and teens may have symptoms of this condition is even less appreciated. But let’s take a closer look at what is actually a pretty common sleep disorder and an oft overlooked reason kids have difficulty falling asleep.
RLS is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by a nearly irresistible urge to move, mostly the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings. These feelings are often described as “creepy-crawly”, “ants crawling on my legs”, “pins and needles.”
The urge (and sensations if present) occur only at rest or are worst at rest/ in the evening. Symptoms are temporarily relieved by movements such as jiggling or jerking the legs, walking around, or rubbing the legs.
It’s not hard to imagine that these symptoms would interfere with falling asleep. …Read More
Racism, not race, contributes to health disparities.
STAT reports medical school curricula traditionally leave little room for nuanced discussions about the impact of race and racism on health, physicians and sociologists say. That mind-set can lead to misdiagnoses, such as treating sickle cell anemia as a largely “black” disease.
Reuters reports that on a study that shows parents have a poor understanding of how much sleep children need. One in four parents thought children need less sleep than is recommended, while one in five thought children need more sleep than what experts advise. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, provided insight on the study noting that children can suffer health issues if parents don’t have a good understanding of sleep problems.
Are expensive treatment centers preying on vulnerable families?
The New York Times reports the advertising and the profusion of for-profit eating disorder centers, which typically cost $1,000 a day but can run much higher, is raising concerns among some eating disorders experts, who worry that some programs may be taking advantage of vulnerable patients and their families. Boston Children’s Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, provides insight.