CHI2013: Wednesday May 1

The day started out with Papers about Food and Health, with the last talk the most interesting: Rita Orji showed us the effect of different elements of serious games, on various gamer types. I found it intriguing to see that rewards, for example, can motivate one player to change their behaviour, while it actively discourages another to do so. It seems that there is only one positive element for all types of gamers: self-efficacy (feeling ownership, pride, optimism). There is a table in the paper giving a complete overview.

Alt.chi: Ethics was a diverse and highly entertaining section, with talks on HCI studies with animals (ACI?), an attempt to replace public toilet graffiti with micro blogging, and the unique Kirman et al. with their talk from the perspective of the computers: how do they see HCI? As it turns out, the computer overlords are pretty satisfied with several developments that make it easier for them to control the humans and make them work harder. They even managed to bridle us with google glass. How efficient!

Then the last Papers session of the day: Design for Children. I was especially inspired by the beautiful work of Fenne van Doorn, who made a class of primary school children her ‘co-researchers’. They would design a toolkit and questions together, and then the kids would go out and interview the elderly in their community about a shared playground for elderly and children. The children also processed their findings in a persona template. The children were motivated to help, because they were working on improving their playground. Can this model also work in other situations, where the benefit for the co-researchers is perhaps not that obvious?


I also have to take a look at the work of Walsh et al., they have collected existing co-design techniques and evaluated them. This can provide some scaffolding for creating new techniques.

Book: Nurture Shock – Review

Nurtureshock: Why Everything We Thought About Children is Wrong – Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This review is only about Chapter 2, since that is about sleep, which is the subject of my current project. The other chapters are equally interesting though! In the chapter ‘The Lost Hour’, the authors describe how children today sleep one hour less than they did 30 years ago and how that impacts their wellbeing.

Like in several scientific papers I read on this subject, it is stated here that a high percentage of high-schoolers feel sleepy during school, their grades drop because of that, and some fall asleep in class. They go as far as to say that the average amount of sleep a child in high school gets, is only 6,5 hours!

The causes for this lack of sleep are the usual suspects: full schedules, early school start times, adolescent circadian clock shifts. Not much time is spend describing possible solutions for this lack of sleep, other than that teenagers who went to bed earlier, got more sleep; their IQ went up and so did their grades. But how to motivate teenagers to go to bed early?

Then an interesting part about adolescents. For reference, I looked up the definition of adolescence in several sources. I was disappointed to find no watertight definition of it, other than some rather vague descriptions without much overlap. The World Health Organisation defines adolescence as the period between 10 and 20 years of age. In the US, adolescent age is often defined as between 13 and 24.

Brown’s Mary Carskadon has demonstrated that during puberty, the circadian system – the biological clock – does a ‘phase shift’ that keeps adolescents up later. In prepubescents and grownups, when it gets dark outside, the brain produces melatonin, which makes us sleepy, But adolescent brains don’t release melatonin for another 90 minutes. So even if teenagers are in bed at 10 p.m. (which they aren’t), they lie awake, staring at the ceiling.

Several experiments with pushing back school start times and letting teens sleep longer, have yielded better results on SAT tests. And interestingly, also typical modern puberescent behaviours like moodiness, depression and binge eating go down with more sleep. Could it be that todays teenagers act out more because of their lack of sleep? The authors of Nurtureshock certainly believe so.

Another side effect of sleep deprivation is an increased chance of becoming obese. Hormone levels change with sleep loss, increasing the feeling of hunger and favouring storage of fat. Furthermore, when you sleep less, you are tired during the day, so you are less likely to have an active lifestyle on top of being hungry. Plus, when you are asleep, you are not eating!

For my research, physical health could be an interesting aspect to define benefits of the proposed nap with. Next to factors like daytime sleepiness, moodiness and cognitive abilities, physical health is important. It would be good to incorporate some measure of that, be it weight, blood pressure or resting heart rate.

The influence of sleep on school performance – Review

Julia F. Dewald, Anne M. Meijer, Frans J. Oort, Gerard A. Kerkhof, Susan M. Bögels The influence of sleep quality, sleep duration and sleepiness on school performance in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review Sleep Medicine Reviews, Volume 14, Issue 3, June 2010, Pages 179–189

This paper is a meta-analysis of the relation between sleep and school performance. Meta-analysis is a statistical method combining different study results. It enables the discovery of consistencies in a set of seemingly inconsistent findings.

Sleeping well is important for children and adolescents, since it influences learning and other memory processes.

insufficient or low quality sleep during (early) adolescence impairs the executive function of the prefrontal cortex16 and consequently the decline of learning abilities and school performance. [17] and [*18]

Sleep is crucial for children and adolescents’ learning, memory processes and school performance. [*1],[*2] and [*3]but 45% of children are not getting enough [7] and [8]. On average, adolescents need 9 hours of sleep per night. But as sleep quality is more important than sleep duration, more effective to measure is sleepiness, as this relates directly to enough sleep or not. If a child would sleep 8 hours a night and would not be sleepy during the day, their school performance would not suffer, in contrast to someone who could sleep 9 hours and still be sleepy in school.

Insufficient sleep might be caused by an interaction of intrinsic (e.g., puberty, circadian or homeostatic changes) and extrinsic factors (e.g., early school start times, social pressure, academic workload) leading to later bedtimes while getting up times remain unchanged. Additionally, it is known that approximately 20–50% of children and adolescents report daytime sleepiness. [9] and [10]

We see that daytime sleepiness is highest among children in mid-puberty. This makes me wonder what age group mid-puberty is exactly, so more about that later. The ages of mid-puberty also differ between boys and girls.

mid-pubertal adolescents may need more sleep than younger or older adolescents in order to reach the same level of daytime alertness and neurocognitive functioning. [*2][*16] and [24]

The article ends with a short summary, which is nice to remember where to focus:

Poor sleep quality, insufficient sleep and sleepiness are significantly associated with worse school performance.
We recommend educating children, adolescents, parents and schools about the importance of sleep for school performance. As part of this, education about sleep hygiene can be given in order to improves the sleep of children and adolescent and consequently school performance.
Attention should be drawn to the development of prevention and treatment programs that focus on the sleep of children and adolescents

For more literature on sleep, see this post.

Chronic Sleep Reduction and School Achievement – Review

MEIJER, A. M. (2008), Chronic sleep reduction, functioning at school and school achievement in preadolescents. Journal of Sleep Research, 17: 395–405. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00677.x

An interesting study on the effects of chronic sleep reduction on the school results of 7th and 8th grade school children. The conclusion is that chronic sleep reduction affects school achievements negatively, directly and indirectly. How does this work?

Chronic sleep reduction can occur by sleeping too shortly or having poor quality of sleep (interrupted), over a longer period. Consequences of chronic sleep reduction can include:

Melatonin and Sleep – Review

VAN MAANEN, A., MEIJER, A. M., SMITS, M. G. and OORT, F. J. (2011), Melatonin and sleep effects on health, behavior problems and parenting stress. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 9: 165–171. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8425.2011.00502.x

A very short review of this article, because it does not really suit the subject of my project, which is about average adolescents and not focused on medical treatment.

This article is about children who receive melatonin treatment, and the effects thereof. The participants of the study were children with severe sleeping disorders. In short, the conclusions of the study are that melatonin treatment has an immediate, positive effect on health, as long as the treatment causes actual longer sleep time. Also behavioral problems decrease. When the treatment is stopped, the problems come back.

Interestingly, I read in another article [link coming soon] that amongst other causes, melatonin production in adolescents is disrupted or changed, hence the late bed times and sleep deprivation. If melatonin is such an important aspect of sleep, health and behavior, would you not want to fix it if you could?

For more literature on sleep, see this post.