Could sleep lessons be next on the curriculum?
Schoolchildren are used to their standard English, Maths and Science routine, but lessons on sleep and its importance could soon be on timetables under new government plans.
From next year, schoolchildren as young as four could be taught about the benefits of sleep in looking after their mental health.
As well as receiving lessons in online safety, schoolchildren will also learn about the link between quality sleep and physical and mental health, with lessons focused on the importance of getting enough sleep and spending time outdoors compared to sitting inside and racking up hours and hours of time staring at bright screens.
Recent research by Silentnight in collaboration with the University of Sheffield revealed that using technology an hour before bed can lead to a sleep debt of up to 121 hours a year for children as young as six. Statistics show that those who switch-off the technology way before bedtime are getting an extra 20 minutes kip each night.
Commenting on the topic and the research, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s sleep expert, said: “It is so important for parents to recognise how essential good quality restorative sleep is for children, and the results from this study highlight how one seemingly harmless habit can have a big impact.
“Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep, so I urge children and parents to put down the technology at least 90 minutes before bedtime. When light levels drop in the evening, our circadian timer switches on and stimulates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. However the use of tech before bed disrupts this natural process.
“Screens on phones and tablets emit blue light which suppress the production of melatonin from the brain’s pineal gland and stimulate the production of the chemical dopamine which makes us feel alert and ‘switched on’. By establishing a regular sleep routine, without mobiles or tablets, children will sleep better, perform better at school, and be happier and healthier as a result.”
With nearly half of children as young as six using mobile phones, laptops or tablets in the hours leading up to bedtime, the research also revealed that having tech devices in the bedroom can impact your sleep – even if they’re turned off!
Although it may seem like a lot, Dr Nerina believes young children should be getting 10 hours sleep a night, as having time to rest and recover after a busy day at school is vital to physical and mental development.
“Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep”, she continues.
“By establishing a regular sleep routine like this the whole family will sleep better, perform better at school and work, and be happier and healthier as a result.”
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