Tackling the “Scroll Free September” challenge with Dr Anna Weighall
Have you been taking on the challenge of Scroll Free September this month? People across the country have been shunning the screen in favour of a more balanced relationship with social media, and therefore, sleep.
We asked developmental psychologist, Dr Anna Weighall from Sheffield University, to share her thoughts on the challenge, and provide some insight into her research in October 2017.
Guest blog post
My name is Dr. Anna Weighall. My profession is developmental psychology, and the focus of my research with Silentnight is the relationships between sleep, health and wellbeing in children and adults.
In October 2017, I led the first major study, to characterise children’s sleeping habits in the UK. We collected data from over 1,000 parents with children aged between six and 11 years old, and together with collaborators from Leeds University and Silentnight, we looked at how lack of sleep affects their daily wellbeing and academic development.
Our results showed that children who experience inadequate sleep are more likely to have problems paying attention in class, forgetting things and keeping up with school work. As a result, children may then end up missing school because they feel unwell.
It is reported that children aged between six and 11 should be getting 10 hours of sleep each night, but our research showed that 36 per cent of primary school children often sleep for less than eight hours.
What was clear from the data is that many parents are not prioritising sleep for their children, or for themselves. By looking at bedtime and waking times we can see that families are consistently going to bed late in the week, and children are regularly having later nights at weekends, which is affecting their sleeping patterns.
Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep. By establishing a regular sleep routine the whole family will sleep better, perform better at school and work, and be happier and healthier as a result.
So, what has led to this lack of sleep in children and adults?
In addition to poor routine, technology was found to be a key contributing factor to lack of sleep amongst children from the age of six.
The findings show that children who have smartphones or tablets in the bedroom sleep less than those who don’t – up to an hour of sleep a night could be lost compared to families that keep bedrooms a tech-free zone.
This sleep loss trend increases as children get older, with 11 year olds losing the most sleep because of tech.
Research shows that the blue light from screens makes you feel more active and keeps you awake, so it’s easy for our brains to be tricked by our phones into thinking it’s not time for bed – meaning children and adults alike can find themselves staying up at night longer than they intended.
So how can we change this?
The Royal Society For Public Health (RSPH) have launched Scroll Free September – the world’s first large-scale social media-free month, sponsored by Silentnight.
Taking part in Scroll free September may help you build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media in the future and therefore improve your sleep routines for a better night’s sleep.
If you haven’t been able to commit to taking the full month off social media, the RSPH have put together 5 different plans to fit your scroll free journey:
- Cold turkey – Giving up social media altogether for the whole 30 days
- Social butterfly – Ignoring social media at social events
- Night owl – Turning off social every night from 6pm
- Busy bee – Taking a break from personal social accounts at work
- Sleeping dog – Giving up social media in the bedroom
There’s still time to take part in Scroll Free: go to http://bit.ly/2Ol6OX2 and sign up now.