Research indicates that many children in the UK are suffering from severe sleep deprivation, which has a knock-on effect on their concentration and performance at school.
According to studies carried out by The Sleep Council, the statistics are staggering: one in three children aged between 12 and 16 sleeps between four and seven hours a night, when they actually require eight to 10 hours to function and develop optimally.
Of particular concern is the role technology plays in the problem, with some 95 per cent of kids polled admitting that they have a stereo system, television or phone in their room, and over 60 per cent claiming they have all three devices.
The problem has reached such epic proportions that child psychology guru, Tanya Byron, recent stated that sleep deprivation was submerging Britain in “an unspoken public health crisis”.
Why ensuring children get a good sleep is crucial to academic success:
- Early achievement at school affects a child’s future: Studies indicate that achieving early educational milestones are predictors of lifelong academic achievement, midlife adjustment and longevity. As parents, we should help our children in every way we can, from their earliest years, to achieve the most they can in terms of their education; this is not possible when they are sleep deprived, since attention spans, concentration and interest wane considerably.
- Children need sleep to develop properly: Studies show that shortened sleep duration, particularly in children aged under 41 months, is associated with lower cognitive performance on neuro-developmental tasks. Other stages are particularly important for brain development as well; take adolescence. Scientists claim that children need to sleep more hours and enjoy a deeper kind of sleep during puberty and adolescence, because it is a time in life when the brain is undergoing major changes, restructuring and rewiring.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to conditions such as anxiety and depression: It isn’t just our children’s academic achievement that is at stake when it comes to sleep; sleep-deprived children can also fall into a spiral of anxiety of depression. Research shows that those with chronic insomnia, for instance, have a high risk of developing anxiety and some form of sleep deprivation is present in nearly all types of diagnosed mental conditions. Anxiety and depression can be very difficult to recover from fully so it is better to take a preventive stance from the start by leading as healthy a lifestyle as possible and by getting a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to behavioural problems: If you are a parent of a toddler then it has probably become very obvious to you that the more tired your toddler is, the more likely they are to be cranky. These mood shifts can affect school-aged kids, too.
Generally speaking, it can be said that children need four things to flourish personally and academically: love from their care-givers, sound nutrition, a good education and a decent night’s sleep. With a little effort we can ensure they receive all three.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important for children. Some useful tips when it comes to sleep include:
- Setting a regular time for bedtime, preparing younger children for sleep around half an hour earlier than their official bedtime (so you can read them stories, tuck them in, etc.)
- Teaching children to relax prior to bedtime through meditation, a long bath, gentle music, etc.
- Avoid giving kids stimulating and sugary foods and beverages in the afternoon.
- Turn technological devices off around half an hour before bedtime, so the brain has enough time to wind down and, hopefully, tune out.
We hope that you have found this blog post useful. If you have any tips, please share them with us by adding a comment.