Lack of sleep may fuel bullies

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

What makes bullies bully? According to a recent study, it may very well be sleep deprivation.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that the elementary school bullies they surveyed were twice as likely to show signs of sleep disorders like snoring or daytime sleepiness.

The results make a lot of sense to Dr. Vipin Garg at Trinitas Hospital Sleep Disorder Center. It is well documented that in adults lack of sleep hampers decision making skills.

"This study kind of shows the same thing, that they lack the judgment to control emotionally their behavior," he explains.

When children come to the sleep center to be observed for sleep disorders, they are usually also suffering from ADHD or aggressive behavior, but when they finally wake up after having a full night's rest, their behavior, doctors say, improves immensely.

Dr. Garg says it's vital to reach REM sleep and Delta Wave sleep every night, and children need more than adults. Children who snore or have sleep apnea are often also hyperactive.

"The clues to whether a child is sleep deprived, just go to the days where there is no school, he weekends, holidays ... if a child is in bed 'til 12 o'clock, often ... he's deprived and he's trying to catch up on sleep," he said.

Still, experts suspect simply sending bullies to bed isn't enough.

"I think sleep is part of it, but there's so many more pieces to the puzzle that needs to be put together to put an end to bullying," says Anti-Bullying Club Counselor Jillian Carpino.

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