Guide offers tips to help pupils get to sleep

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

More than 80% of primary age children suffer from sleep anxiety, with pupils waking up an average of 2.2 times a night.

A national poll featuring 2,000 children aged four to 11 found that the respondents were getting an average of seven to eight hours’ sleep a night, with only 18% getting the recommend 10 hours.

A new guide has now been published with tips and advice for parents and teachers to help children sleep better.

Bedtime anxiety is a fear or worry about going to sleep and reasons given in the research include fear of the dark., nightmares and a fear of sleeping alone. Other reasons include worries about school, including bullying.

The poll has been run by Silentnight and the new guide has been produced in conjunction with sleep poverty charity Zarach.

The guide includes tips and ideas for parents to support their children at bedtime, while there is advice for teachers on how to spot sleep problems in pupils and how to raise and talk to families about these issues. Tips for spotting children suffering from sleep deprivation include:

  • Sleepy children tend to speed up rather than slow down! This could present as hyperactive behaviour.
  • Reluctance to get out of bed in the morning, presenting as regular lateness or parents reporting children refusing to get up.
  • Shortened attention span or visibly falling asleep at the table or on the carpet.
  • Poorer hand to eye co-ordination often evident in handwriting and other fine motor skill tasks.
  • Reduction in emotional resilience, increased moodiness and irritability.
  • Reduced memory recall. Could be unable to recall previously remembered facts or spellings.

Hannah Shore, sleep knowledge and researcher at Silentnight, said: “It's not just about the quantity of sleep they get, but the quality. Children need a good mixture of all types of sleep to get good sleep quality. REM sleep has links with memory consolidation, emotional processing and learning and NREM sleep is restorative sleep where toxins are washed from our brains and growth hormones are released.”

There is advice in the guide from Natalie Costa, who has more than 14 years’ experience working with parents to develop better sleeping routines. She said: “Whether it’s creating a clear bedtime routine, taking the time to explain why sleep is so important or even practising meditation or journaling – there’s lots of things to try.”

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