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Apr 03

Bullying Behavior and The Sleep Impact

Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year. The harmful side effects of bullying can lead to social isolation, depression, insomnia, and even nightmares

So what is bullying? Bullying is the intentional, repeated, and negative behavior directed against a person who has difficulty defending him or herself. One person or many people can orchestrate such behavior.Bullying isn’t limited by demographic. Children and adolescents of all ages, genders, socioeconomic status, and race can experience bullying. That said, some studies have shown that certain demographics are more vulnerable to bullying. For example, LGBT persons are at increased risk for harassment, teasing, and physical assault.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students are all at higher risk of being bullied. A 2017 survey found that 33% of LGBT students reported being bullied on school property — as opposed to 17% of their heterosexual peers. Such bullying puts them at higher risk for use of drugs and alcohol, suicidal ideation, and risky sexual behavior. 

Federal civil rights laws do not protect LGTBQ youth, but they may be protected under the sexual harassment Title IX statute. Building a safe environment, protecting privacy, providing interpersonal support to students, creating Gay-Straight Alliances, and accepting LGBTQ youth as they are can all help prevent bullying from occurring.Although bullying is most known and prevalent in school settings, it can also affect adults in the workplace. For example, adults may experience hurtful remarks, sexual harassment, mind games, intimidation, hazing, or work sabotage. Even adults who aren’t experiencing bullying now may still grapple with the long-term effects of bullying. One of those negative impacts — the wide-ranging and negative effects on healthy sleep.

One study found that victims of bullying often experience sleep disturbances that can impact school performance. And it’s not just for pure victims — both bullies and bully/victims exhibited higher sleepiness levels. Additionally, they found that during the weekday, the bully group went to bed and woke up later than other groups profiled.Victims or bullies engaged in physical abuse and relational victimization reported the worst sleep disturbances. In both instances, 52% of those involved experienced poor sleep quality three or more nights over the past 30 days. Verbal victimization still disturbed those involved, though at a slightly lower rate: 41%.

So what can you do to improve sleep patterns whether it involved in bullying as a participant, victim, or bystander?

  1. Set a predictable bedtime. No matter where your child is on the bullying spectrum, creating a solid and predictable bedtime routine is another way to reduce bully-related sleep problems and create a stable environment.
  2. Read to them before bedBedtime reading for children has shown to improve cognitive ability, especially when started at a young age. Many experts even encourage parents to begin this ritual with their newborns. If you have adolescent children who have outgrown this ritual, encouraging them to read a book before bed or taking away their electronics for the night is a great way to help them wind down and prepare for sleep.
  3. Select the right foods. Did you know that some foods can help both children and adults sleep better? Healthy meals and snacks with naturally occurring ingredients like tryptophan, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 may help lull your little ones to sleep. Think turkey, milk, eggs, beans, yogurt, bananas, cherries, and oats.
  4. Encourage good sleep hygienePracticing good sleep hygiene covers a wide array of healthy sleeping habits. You can model these for your children and set up the environment for them to succeed. That means preparing them for enough hours of sleep every night, going to bed at the same time, finding a quiet place to sleep, keeping their bedroom dark and cool, limiting screen time before bed, and following a bedtime routine.
  5. Shake it out. Both children and adults greatly benefit from exercise to help them sleep. During the daytime or right after school, finding ways to get your child outdoors and active will have cascading positive benefits on their overall mental health and sleeping habits. Think of visiting the jungle gym, walking the dog, or playing some touch football in the yard. If you have an older child, taking them to a rock climbing wall, signing up for a half marathon together, or joining a school sport could all be great ways to get out and stay active.

Bullying is never an easy issue to confront. It’s especially hard to know what to do if you’re watching a loved one or child struggling through this ordeal

Article by Tuck.

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