Lack of Sleep Plus Extra Screen Time Leads to Impulsivity in Kids

New Canadian research suggests that children and youth who do not sleep enough and who use screens more than recommended are more likely to act impulsively and make poorer decisions.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, come from the globally recognized Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) in Ottawa.

“Impulsive behavior is associated with numerous mental health and addiction problems, including eating disorders, behavioral addictions and substance abuse,” said Dr. Michelle Guerrero, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of Ottawa.

“This study shows the importance of especially paying attention to sleep and recreational screen time, and reinforces the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.”

The 24-Hour Movement recommendations, are the first evidence-based guidelines to address the whole day. Experts discovered kids are inactive and may be losing sleep over it. Moreover, they aren’t moving enough to be tired, and they may also be too tired to move. For optimal health benefits, children and youth should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behavior, and sufficient sleep each day.

Emerging evidence shows the need for a new movement paradigm that emphasizes the integration of all movement behaviors occurring over a whole day, shifting the focus from the individual components to emphasize the whole. The new guidelines encourage children and youth to “Sweat, Step, Sleep and Sit” the right amounts for a healthy 24 hours.

Now, the new study confirms that when kids follow these recommendations, they are more likely to make better decisions and act less rashly than those who do not meet the guidelines, explains Guerrero.

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth recommend:

    • 9-11 hours of sleep a night
    • no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time a day

The new paper, “24-Hour Movement Behaviors and Impulsivity,” analyzed data over a 10-year period for 4,524 children from a large longitudinal population study called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. In addition to sleep and screen time, the ABCD Study also captures data related to physical activity.

Physical activity is a third pillar of the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, which recommend children and youth receive at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.

The ABCD Study allowed Guerrero and her team to look at the three pillars of the movement guidelines against eight measures of impulsivity.

The criteria include one’s tendency to seek out thrilling experiences, to set desired goals, to respond sensitively to rewarding or unpleasant stimuli, and to act rashly in negative and positive moods.

The study results suggest that meeting all three pillars of the movement guidelines was associated with more favorable outcomes on five of the eight dimensions.

Guerrero and her team say that studies using feedback devices to measure the movement behaviors in future research will help further our understanding of how physical activity, screen time, and sleep relate to children’s impulsivity.

Source: University of Ottawa

Mental Well-Being in Early Midlife May Predict Activity Levels a Decade Later

A new Finnish study finds that 42-year-olds who scored high in tests of mental well-being were more physically active at age 50 compared to those with lower well-being scores.

For the study, the researchers divided mental well-being into three dimensions: emotional well-being (overall satisfaction with life and a tendency to have positive feelings); psychological well-being (experiences of personal growth and the purpose of life); and social well-being (relationships with other people and the community).

The researchers were surprised that leisure time physical activity (LTPA) did not predict later mental well-being or subjective health, but that mental well-being did predict physical activity.

It seems that mental well-being is an important resource for maintaining a physically active lifestyle in midlife, says Dr. Tiia Kekäläinen from the Gerontology Research Center and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.

In addition, the researchers found that different leisure time physical activities were linked to different dimensions of well-being in 50-year-olds. Walking was related to emotional well-being, rambling in nature to social well-being and endurance training to subjective health.

“Although exercise did not predict later mental well-being or subjective health in this study, exercise is important for current mental well-being and health,” Kekäläinen says.

These associations were found among both men and women, but additionally, rambling in nature was associated with both emotional well-being and subjective health, but only among men.

“It is possible that rambling in nature means different things for men and women. For example, it correlated with the frequency of vigorous exercise only among men,” Kekäläinen says.

In today’s world, where most jobs are sedentary, leisure time physical activity — as opposed to sedentary leisure time — plays a key role in the recuperation of both body and mind, say the authors. Leisure time physical activities may include anything from walking and rambling in nature to bike riding, swimming and skiing.

The findings are published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Source: University of Jyväskylä