With just a few weeks left for the Boards, a large number of schoolchildren compromise on their eight hours of necessary sleep. They study till late in the night and wake up early morning to get back to books again, least realising the harm inadequate sleep can cause on their health.
"Children must realise that they cannot concentrate if the mind is not fresh. It is essential that one sleeps for 7-8 hours to be able to focus on studies," said Dr Anupam Sibal, senior consultant pediatrician at Apollo Hospital.
"Children should ensure that there is a break of at least 1-1½ hours between dinner and sleep. They should avoid beverages like coffee, tea and chocolate drinks during late evenings and post-dinner as it interferes with sleep," he added.
"Eight hours of sleep is must for the restoration of thinking and concentration process. Time-wise, eight hours is enough, but quality-wise, one should get 25% N3 sleep (about two hours), which is the deeper stage of sleep or restorative sleep," said Dr MS Kanwar, director, Advanced Sleep Disorder Institute at Greater Kailash.
"Children who do not get adequate sleep tend to develop sleep debt over weeks. Problems like dullness, sleepiness during the day, fatigue, tiredness and decreased level of brisk thinking start setting in," Dr Kanwar added.
He warns that if a child has been deprived of sleep for long, it may lead to underperformance during exams. "The output will not be as desired," Dr Kanwar said.
Experts caution if poor sleep pattern continues for long, children tend to develop depression, mood swings and irritability.
"If the mind is not at peace, it's difficult that one can enjoy a good night sleep," said Dr Nevin Kishore, sleep disorder specialist, Max Healthcare.
"Parents must avoid discussing stressful topics in late evenings as these play in the minds of the young ones during sleep time. Topics, which may cause anxiety, should be discussed in the morning," he added.
Parents should try to de-stress children in the evening. "It's a good idea to fix the bedtime. Don't change the pattern as it will disrupt the sleep cycle and lower the concentration level," said Dr Kishore.