Leading Australian sleep expert to investigate sleep habits in rural and remote schools
Sydney, Australia – Philips, together with the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep (ACES), has announced the next stage in the SimplyHealthy@Schools sleep education program, with Dr. Sarah Blunden, Pediatric Sleep Research Fellow at the Centre for Sleep Research, University of South Australia and director of the ACES, to deliver the sleep education module to schools in rural communities around Australia.
Dr. Sarah Blunden will conduct educational talks to the high school, junior school and to parents in Penola, South Australia from August 18 – 20, 2011, with activity planned at the end of the year in Coober Pedy and Alice Springs. Through this activity, Dr Blunden will investigate how the impact of sleep habits in rural and remote communities affect children’s sleep and their daytime functioning.
“Sleep habits in young people can differ greatly between metropolitan and rural and remote areas. This is due to a number of factors, including an increased number of shift working families, lack of child care or family support, or heat in summer increasing the amount of evening activity. Through the support of Philips and the SimplyHealthy@Schools program, we hope to understand how this affects children’s sleep and their daytime functioning,” said Dr Blunden.
Despite the known behavioural and health outcomes associated with poor sleep, sleep problems appear to be underreported and therefore under-diagnosed.1 A possible contributing factor is lack of awareness both from primary health professionals and caregivers. Previous studies in Australia2 and overseas3 show sleep problems are seldom diagnosed or addressed and rarely treated at the primary or tertiary health care levels. Similarly, many students and their families may not understand the impact of poor sleep on health and weight and what constitutes poor or good sleep habits.
“Globally, Philips is committed to increasing awareness of how sleep impacts people’s health and well-being, including people’s understanding of the seriousness of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea. Through the SimplyHealthy@Schools program, we hope to educate communities about this issue and ensure children in these areas can benefit from a better understanding of the day-to-day impact of sleep,” said Harry van Dyk, Country Manager of Philips Australia.
1 Blunden S, Lushington K, Lorenzon B, Wong J, Balendran R, Kennedy D. (2003). Symptoms of sleep breathing in disorders in children are underreported by parents a general practice visits. Sleep Breath, 7(4): 167-76
2 Blunden SL, Lushington K, Lorenzen B, Ooi T, Fung F, Kennedy D. (2004). Are sleep problems under-recognised in general practice? Arch Dis Child,89(8):708-12.
3 Chervin RD, Archbold KH, Panahi P, Pituch KJ. (2001). Sleep problems seldom addressed at two general pediatric clinics. Pediatrics,107(6):1375-80.
The Philips SimplyHealthy@Schools module is available as a free, downloadable educational tool at www.simplyhealthyatschools.com and aims to support teachers in educating children between the ages of eight and 12 years on the importance of sleep and how it can help to improve their health and well-being.
The module forms part of a wider trial by the ACES to test whether the delivery of sleep education in a comprehensive format as part of the school curriculum can change sleep habits, or improve secondary outcomes such as attention span, quality of life, general wellbeing, mood, physical activity levels and media usage. 12 schools will form part of the wider trial, which is the first of its size in Australia.
“Increased awareness of sleep and the consequences of sleep loss in children is imperative if we are to give students the opportunity to continue a healthy and productive development through to a healthy and productive adulthood. While there are Australian Government guidelines for physical activity, nutrition and screen time in children, sleep has thus far been ignored. I believe this trial will show that there is a need for the implementation of sleep education programs, such as Philips SimplyHealthy@Schools, to form part of normal Health and Personal Development courses in primary schools,” said Dr Blunden.
There are many areas of a child’s behaviour and development which can be affected by lack of sleep, including emotions, concentration, creativity, problem solving, complicated thinking and motor co-ordination. It is thought that sleep, particularly dream sleep or REM sleep, is necessary for storing certain types of memory, particularly more difficult memories such as mathematical concepts and language.1
Nearly 40 per cent of Australian children and adolescents experience some form of sleep problem during their development and children are as much at risk as adults of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea.
If left untreated, sleep apnoea can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes.2
The impact of sleep on Australian’s health and wellbeing is highlighted by the recently published Philips Index for Health and Well-being report – a consumer research study conducted across 23 countries and involving more than 31,000 people. Half of Australians surveyed said a lack of sleep affects their physical health, 48 percent said it affects their relationships with others and 44 percent of Australians said it affects their mental health.3
As a global leader in the management of sleep disorders, Philips innovates to find meaningful solutions that improve the health and well-being of people around the world, and has developed a wide range of products and solutions, from diagnostic tools through to patient-centered sleep therapy devices, to help enhance the quality of sleep.
1 Australian Centre for Education in Sleep, http://www.sleepeducation.net.au/sleep%20facts.php
2 Australian Centre for Education in Sleep, http://www.sleepeducation.net.au/sleep%20facts.php
3 This data is taken from a sub-analysis of the Philips Index for Health and Well-being, involving almost 14,000 people from 10 different countries
Philips also calls upon everyone who thinks they suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) to take its self-assessment Sleep Quiz which can be found online at www.philips.com/sleepapnoea. To seek further guidance and/or diagnosis for OSA please visit your doctor and let them know what symptoms you are experiencing.