Parents offered ‘get your child to sleep’ classes as pupils turn up to lessons too tired
Experts are teaching importance of sticking to bedtime routines and restricting children’s night-time use of video games, mobile phones and computers
Primary schools are running classes for parents on helping children to sleep because growing numbers of pupils are too tired to cope in lessons.
Experts are being called in to teach the importance of sticking to bedtime routines and restricting children’s night-time use of video games, mobile phones and computers.
Teachers are reporting that children are increasingly falling asleep at their desks or becoming irritable and disruptive because they failed to get a proper night’s sleep.
Bored: Primary schools are running classes for parents on helping children to sleep because growing numbers of pupils are too tired to cope in lessons
The growing trend for children to be allowed TVs, gaming consoles and mobile phones in their bedrooms is said to be fuelling the problem.
Poor diet, caffeinated drinks and a lack of daytime exercise are other causes of sleep deprivation among children.
The classes aim to tackle common sleep problems such as children refusing to go to bed, repeatedly coming downstairs after bedtime or repeatedly calling for their parents’ attention.
Dr Andrew Mayers, a sleep expert and senior lecturer in psychology at Bournemouth University, has delivered workshops at several primary schools in the Dorset town and would like to extend the programme.
‘Some parents will tell me their 10-year-old child gets texts at two in the morning, which they have to respond to otherwise they are seen as “not cool”,’ he said.
Up to 40 per cent of children suffer sleep problems, according to Dr Mayers, causing poor concentration, hyperactivity and temper tantrums.
Winton Primary School sought his help after teachers discovered during parents’ evening that many were struggling to deal with their children’s sleep problems.
‘These children were not making the progress we wanted to see,’ said teacher Jane Rose. ‘Parents were struggling with getting them to sleep.’
Children at the school often discuss staying up late to play video games or watch DVDs in their bedroom, she added.
Earlier this year a survey by the Sleep Council found nine in ten primary school teachers were struggling to teach children too tired to concentrate.
Sion Humphreys, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘A tired and irritable child will not thrive, particularly in the active and pacy modern classroom.
‘We are particularly concerned about the still small but rising number of pupils who stay up late engaged in online gaming.’
Health experts said the risks to children went beyond lower grades in exams.
Kathleen McGrath, a paediatric nurse specialising in insomnia, said: ‘If they sleep badly as children one of the great dangers is not just their education.
‘They will tend to be overweight, they will tend to have blood pressure problems and they may well develop diabetes in later life, heart problems, depression and mental health problems. It’s a big health burden and it needs to be sorted.’