THE children and adolescents are sleepless. No longer a suspicion or the impression of some apprehensive parent as much as a a fact also demonstrated by two recent studies. The first, conducted byInstitut National du Sommeil et de la Vigilance (INSV), an institute that has been dealing with the well-being of French sleep since 1901; the second, conducted in Spain by Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) of Madrid, instead focused on adolescents, highlighting also in this case i their rest disorders, which are the basis of serious problems such as obesity and addictions.

    Insomniac children and adolescents: data in hand

    The results of both studies are not very comforting, especially for parents. Sleepless children and adolescents are indeed on the rise. The French study reports that around the 76% of children aged 6 months to 3 years do not sleep sufficiently, less than the 11 hours required in this age group; the Spanish one instead reported even more alarming data because only 34% of the children who participated in the research, in total 1229 adolescents aged 12,14,16 years, sleep at least 8 hours a nighta percentage that falls the more adolescents grow, reaching 23% for 14-year-olds and 19% for 16-year-olds.

    But the Spanish study went further: 21% of 12-year-olds who sleep little run the risk of obesity and overweight, a percentage that reaches 72% in 14-year-olds. But why does this happen?

    Juvenile insomnia, the causes for children and how to deal with the problem

    «Insomnia in children and adolescents is more widespread than is believed; in Italy the prevalence is estimated between 20% and 30% and the recent pandemic, as in adults, has contributed to amplify the problem»Explains the Prof. Fabio Cirignotta, Neurologist in charge of the Sleep Clinic of the Villalba Private Clinic in Bologna.

    But what is the cause of insomnia? «In children, insomnia is very often linked to wrong behavior how to get the child used to falling asleep shaking hands with parents or a “reassuring” object like a toy. In doing so, he will have a hard time falling asleep without the presence of his parents or the toy and, if he wakes up in the night and finds himself alone, he will not be able to fall asleep again until his parents come running “explains the expert. Another one a bad habit is to make the child go to bed at the times he choosesoften very variable.

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    How to behave then? “It is usually advisable to send the child to bed at the most regular times possible and to get him used to falling asleep without the presence of his parents or the “reassuring” object »explains prof. Cirignotta.

    Sleep deprivation in adolescents

    The situation for adolescents, on the other hand, is more complex pfor which the causes can be personal, family or school problems, or conscious and voluntary deprivation of sleep.

    Many guys get used to falling asleep late in the night because they use the internet, video games, social media thus delaying the time of falling asleep. So when they wake up to go to school in the morning they are sleep deprived, having slept much less than necessary (at their age about nine hours), they are sleepy and perform less at school “

    The consequences of sleep deprivation: increased cases of obesity and overweight

    But insomnia isn’t just about actual sleep deprivation. In fact, there are many consequences behind the phenomenon, including an increase in overweight and obesity: apparently on two different levels, actually sleep and nutrition are linked. Bad eating habits aside, the lack of adequate rest in fact increases the production of germina, the hormone that promotes appetite, lowering that of leptin, essential for the sense of satiety.

    This imbalance causes a continuous appetite in the person, in addition to the alteration of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis which also results in manifest an insulin resistance which, in addition to promoting obesity, also leads to diabetes.

    Greater development towards addictions

    But these are not the only consequences: “Insomnia has recently been linked to the problem of addiction: those who have a tendency to sleep little and badly have a greater ease of developing addiction the use of drugs, alcohol, drugs “.

    And why does this happen? «Among the possible reasons, it has been assumed that sleep deprivation causes an increase in orexin, a hormone that promotes wakefulness but also reduces the ability to self-control. In practice, it weakens the ability of the person who is already abusing drugs, drugs or alcohol to get out of this condition »concludes the expert.