Stressed teens are losing sleep over exams
With the summer exam season getting closer, a new
poll out today suggests that many teenagers are already
experiencing sleepless nights, with young people getting just five
to six hours of sleep after admitting to being kept awake by
The Sleep Council survey, found that
on a usual night, around one in 10 say they get five to six hours
of sleep a night, but in the four weeks before exams start, this
rises to one in five. Furthermore, while just over a quarter say
they usually get six to seven hours of shut-eye, this falls to
around one in five in the run up to exams.
It also reveals the impact exam
season has on young people, with over one in four saying they
wake up more frequently due to worrying and stress and a similar
proportion say they wake up earlier.
Lisa Artis, of the Sleep Council,
said: "Our research shows that a worryingly high number of
teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need to function
and perform at their best in the build up to exams. They are
sacrificing sleep to study when in fact they might be more mentally
alert cramming in extra sleep rather than more revision.
Silentnight's resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina
Ramlakhan, has compiled some top tips for helping students prepare
for exams and lower stress levels:
Eat healthily and stay well
hydrated. Snack healthily to maintain blood sugar levels so that
your brain is able to absorb information. Avoid caffeine after 2pm
so that you can optimise sleep quality.
Engage a different part of
Give yourself a break by doing
something totally different with your brain such as juggling, using
a hula-hoop or even playing darts. Again, it helps to empty
the working memory.
Practice good sleep hygiene; wind
down before you go to bed by reading or watching something
easy. Don't study in bed and try to have at least one hour
free from technology (Facebook and Twitter included) before
getting into bed. Learn how to power nap. Researchers have
shown that even a 5 - 10 min power nap at some time between 2pm and
5pm can significantly enhance cognitive
Pay attention to any 'unusual'
symptoms that have started to pop up such as headaches, insomnia,
IBS, appetite changes, skin problems, tearfulness, anxiety or
depression. These could be signs that you are not
Recognise your limits and know when
you are going over them. If possible, set yourself realistic
targets, learn how to ask for help and learn how to say no when the
pressure starts to reach unhealthy levels. Stop being so hard on
Acknowledge when you've done something well and give
yourself something to look forward to every day - even if it's
something small like taking time to listen to your favourite upbeat
piece of music. Stay optimistic even when things
look bad and take time out to notice even the small things that
have gone well, e.g. getting a seat on a train, a nice cup of tea
or a nice text message from someone. Research shows that
people who practice this sort of exercise are healthier and
more able to cope with stress and adversity.
For more sleep tips and advice from
Dr Nerina, visit our Sleep Toolkit.