An extensive study to evaluate sleep patterns in Caucasian and Asian children found considerable differences in sleep patterns with Indian children sleeping much less than the rest.
According to the study author, Jodi Mindell, from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Indian children, went to bed late, slept less overall and portrayed a greater tendency to share their rooms as compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
Dr Mindell said, "This study is the first to look at sleep in infants and toddlers cross-culturally and the results are astonishing. We found vast differences in amounts of sleep and parents' perceptions of sleep problems across countries. It needs to be investigated if these differences are simply the result of differing cultural practices and what is the impact, if any, of these vast differences."
Dr Vikram Sarabhai, sleep medicine expert from Max Hospital, said "It's true that Indian children are getting much lesser sleep. As a result, their growth is suffering. Growth hormones made by the pituitary gland , that is responsible for increasing glucose uptake in muscle, enhancing protein synthesis in the liver and muscle and causing the breakdown of fat is released primarily during sleep. When sleeping hours are compromised, so is growth."
Dr M S Kanwar, senior consultant of critical care and sleep medicine at Apollo Hospital, added, "One major factor for this is the homework load on children in India. This makes them stay up late. Also, kids in India are much more hooked to late night TV as against those in Europe and US where families go to sleep by 10pm. Which Indian family sleeps at 10pm? Children in India are also taking less interest in outdoor sports."
Parents must take a serious look at children's bedtime which should be consistent. Parents must also ensure that they interact with their children before they fall asleep, without the intervention of TV, computer or video games.