Schoolchildren across the UK could soon be given sleep lessons as a way of easing the insomnia problem currently wreaking havoc among youngsters.
Everybody knows the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, particularly before a big day or event, but for young children it could just be the difference between making the grade and not.
After a recent paper in the British Medical Journal suggested that sleep has a greater impact on a child’s mental wellbeing than bullying, physical activity or screen time, lessons on sleep could soon be on the curriculum.
Dr Nerina, Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, has done extensive research into how maintaining a regular sleeping pattern can help to aid the healthy growth of children as they move into adolescence, revealing that a child’s mental health could in fact be seriously impacted by not getting the recommended 10 hours a night.
Nodding off in the classroom may seem funny to your peers but, in fact, could actually be a sign of much deeper-lying issues.
Commenting on the topic, Dr Nerina said: “Your body can fall into a daytime sleep state called a hypnagogic trance if your brain is being bombarded, or has been bombarded, with too much information. By slipping into a trance-like state, the brain cleverly seeks ways of going ‘offline’ in order to empty our mental filing cabinets, so that we can come back to the task in hand with renewed focus.
“Children often do this when they’ve been concentrating hard – a glazed-over state which signals that the brain is trying to process and consolidate information.”
Partly to blame for the ‘hidden health disaster’ of sleeplessness in the young, according to experts, is the excessive use of social media and active video games such as Fortnite before bedtime.
Dr Nerina commented: “What a game like Fortnite does is stimulate children’s brains, which is the very opposite of what should be happening just before sleep. It will activate the sympathetic nervous system, including the fight or flight system, and shut down the parasympathetic nervous system that is involved in the rest, repair and sleep that all children need.
“It is so important for parents to recognise how essential good quality restorative sleep is for
children. Ten hours is ideal as children’s brains are constantly growing and developing, particularly at primary school age. When they don’t get enough sleep it can start to show in the classroom.”