Feeling Sleepy?

Feeling-SleepyQuestion: How much sleep do teenagers need every night?

Answer: 9 hours according to the Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic.

The University of Oxford has announced that it will research teenager’s sleep patterns over the course of 2017.  The project, entitled Teen Sleep, will involve pupils in 100 UK schools. Some will have later school start times (10 o’clock rather than 9 o’clock) and others will be given sleep education to teach them good bedtime routines and ways to sleep even when feeling stressed. At the end of the study the two groups’ academic performances will be compared with one another and with control subjects to see whether either is of any benefit.

Everybody knows that diet and exercise have an effect on our health, but few are aware that sleep is just as important. A lack of sleep makes us more likely to be overweight.  How so? Well tiredness makes us crave sugar to give us enough energy to stay awake. People who don’t get enough sleep are also more at risk of cancer, heart disease and type-2 diabetes later in life. But it’s not just our bodies that are affected – our minds are too. Sleep-deprived children (and adults!) are more irritable and also less able to concentrate. As you can imagine, this does not make it easy for them at school.

So, how can you tell if your child is getting enough sleep? As a guide, children at infant school need between 10.5 and 11 hours sleep, juniors need 9.5 to 10, and secondary school children need about 9 hours.  But the best way to tell if your child is tired is to look at them. Do they get out of bed easily in the mornings or is it a struggle? Are they alert and happy most of the time or are they a little dopey and grumpy?  The answers you get to these questions should tell you one way or the other.

But what if they are not getting enough sleep – what can you do to help them? Here are a few tips that just might help:

  • Have them avoid drinks which contain caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or even tea. Their last of the day should be no later than 2 o’clock as the drug stays in the body for a long time and is known to keep people awake.
  • Do not let them use computers, or even mobile phones, close to bedtime. Attention grabbing activities, such as gaming or social media, excite our brains and keep sleep at bay.
  • Light can keep us awake. In the evenings use low powered bulbs so that they recognise that it is night time. Even the light from a mobile phone or tablet can be enough to waken our brains.

Now you’ve learned the value of sleep, in education as well as health, perhaps you have more questions. If so, the EQ Knowledge Bank is the place for you! It has many articles which aim to provide parents with answers to education questions, from the purpose of Ofsted to the best methods of revision. We also have useful tips for parenting where you’ll find ideas for school holidays and advice on dealing with bullies. It’s a mine of useful information!

Is a lack of sleep affecting your child? If so I hope that this blog may go some way towards helping you to help them.  For some more tips take a look at my colleague Sarah’s blog from a few weeks back.  It’ll give you a few more tips on how to get a good night’s rest.  Sleep well.

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