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Mindful breathing practices significantly improve the quality of sleep in schoolchildren

According to the US National Sleep Foundation, children between the ages of 6 and 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep a night. However, few people follow these recommendations, which leads to serious sleep disorders in children, and as a result, health and learning problems. American scientists have proposed a simple and very effective way to help children sleep well. //medportal.ru/pictures/news/a255fdbc-9cff-47fb-91a9-bce93419de8c/medium.jpg” />

The study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University, involved about 1,000 third and fifth grade students from schools that are located in disadvantaged areas of San Francisco. Some of them live below the poverty line, and this factor has a very negative impact on the quality of sleep, the authors of the study noted. Such children are in constant stress and tension, including because of the criminogenic situation, so they often cannot fall asleep for a long time.

Participants were divided into three groups, and in one of them, schoolchildren were taught breathing techniques borrowed from yoga twice a week in physical education classes. Simple exercises were aimed at recognizing stress and managing it. In the control group, children performed regular physical exercises as part of the school curriculum. Another school implemented a mindfulness and stress management curriculum.

Children were taught age-appropriate mindfulness breathing techniques. For example, younger children were asked to perform the “starfish breathing” exercise, in which they imagined that their hand was a starfish that rises when they inhale. The older participants practiced “ocean breathing” by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

Three months later, the study authors selected 58 mindful breathing children and 57 controls. To assess the quality of their sleep, scientists used polysomnography, the gold standard for measuring performance during sleep. Experts noted that this is a more reliable way to understand how well a child sleeps than their subjective assessment.

The results showed that children in the breathing practice group slept an average of 74 minutes more compared to their peers who engaged in regular physical exercise. The quality of their sleep was also higher due to longer REM sleep (rapid eye movement phase), which is necessary for the development of neurons, cognitive and emotional functions.

At the same time, children in the breathing practice group reported that they became more experience stress. According to scientists, the reason for this is simple: what stress is and they have learned to better recognize it in themselves,” the authors of the study said.

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