Bullies Losing Sleep, Cause or Effect?
Bullying has been a plague in the news for longer than we would like to admit. It is a tragic problem that has very real victims. Sadly there have been several youth suicides within the last two years which were directly related to bullying. The effects aren’t always as noticeable though. Parents and teachers should watch for signs of bullying, which can include changes in wanting to attend school and school events, dropping grades, headaches and stomach aches (can be from stress), and irritability, or withdrawal. Adolescents may have a hard time admitting a bullying problem due to embarrassment or fear of retaliation from the aggressor.
A study by the University of Michigan Medical School, says that bullies are twice as likely to have sleep problems as those their age who don’t take part in the hurtful action. This is a helpful realization, and has a valid use in a clinical level, however one has to wonder if it is the cause or the effect. Do they bully because they don’t sleep well, or do they not sleep well because they spend their days bullying?
Louise O'Brien, an assistant professor at the university's Sleep Disorders Center, stated that sleepiness in adolescents is the biggest instigator of behavioral problems. It was also indicated that environmental factors could be playing a factor in the lack of sleep due to the fact that bullies are often part of a dysfunctional family unit. Either way, it appears that encouraging a greater quantity and quality of sleep may help to calm aggressive and bullying children.
Some tips for healthy sleep habits in children include:
- Remember school age children require 10-12 hours of sleep nightly, Teens need 8-9.
- Encourage a regular bedtime and bedtime routine.
- Control the child’s sleeping area, make sure lights and TV are off at bedtime.
- Set limits and be consistent with them.
- Control caffeine consumption.
- During the child’s sleep watch for thrashing about, snoring, or breathing trouble, which can be signs of medical sleep disorders.