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Indigenous kids sleep in focus


An Australian sleep specialist has expressed concern over the typical sleep routines of indigenous children, calling for raised awareness of the importance of sleep within communities and claiming that a better understanding of the benefits of sleep could help academic performance, as well as their general health and lifestyle. Dr Sarah Blunden from South Australia’s Appleton Institute studied four indigenous communities and found that sleep is often poorly valued, with no routines or regularity for the children. This erratic approach impacts upon sleep quality and daytime energy levels, directly reducing the chances of the child performing to their potential at school and risking a number of other negative outcomes.

Besides academic performance, poor sleep during the vital formative years can create long-term problems in the areas of obesity and general health.

"I have become increasingly convinced improved sleep habits could make a significant contribution to closing the gap," Dr Blunden told "Sleep education interventions certainly help non-indigenous children who are experiencing problems. We see a change in performance, mood and a whole lot of other outcomes. We need to be culturally sensitive, but it would certainly be helpful if we could find a way to help indigenous families to find a way to improve their children's sleep habits."

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