There are two widely divergent opinions on the quantum of sleep required by productive and successful individuals of the 21st century. The consensus opinion of the rich and famous is ‘don’t sleep your life away’. Most of the world’s richest and most successful people sleep for less than five hours. They include US President Donald Trump (3-4 hours), Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (4), GE chief executive Jeff Immelt (5) and former president of Pepsico Inc Indra Nooyi (4). However, most research conducted by healthcare gurus and academics is unanimous that adults require a minimum seven-nine hours sleep in every 24-hour cycle to maintain good health and become productive. According to this accumulating body of research, sleep deprivation can — and does — aggravate stress, depression, diabetes and cardiac ailments.
In particular, expert and professional opinion is unanimous that for children and adolescents, adequate and restful sleep is the prerequisite of physical and mental well-being. For the young, good quality prolonged sleep is necessary for their growing bodies to build sinews and mental capability to enable brain development and tissue repair functions.
According to a recent study published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics, over 90 percent of 13-15-year-olds in Delhi are sleep-deprived. Driven by pushy parents, millions of children and teenagers across the country are sacrificing sleep at the altar of academics, co-curricular and sports education and technology addiction. The consequences are poor academic performance, lethargy, irritation, obesity and incremental stress. The warning of medical experts to the growing tribe of helicopter parents is don’t cram your child’s day with activities and cut down on their sleep hours; it can be counter-productive.
There are many other interesting features in this issue. Among them: how to help children cope with divorce; a health and nutrition essay on preventing chronic illnesses in children by Vellore-based pediatrician Dr. Gita Mathai and interview with popular actress Isha Koppikar on how she nurtures her daughter by example. Also check out our four-page Kidzone special on ways and means to encourage children to take to sports and games.