Your older child’s sleep problems

For children of school age, a good night’s sleep is vital – but what to do if your child isn't getting enough zzzzs?

Does your child exist on ‘junk sleep’?

Once your child starts school, a good night’s sleep is more important than ever – but research from The Sleep Council indicates that 30% of children only get four to seven hours on school nights instead of the recommended eight or nine. Because of this. up to 50% of teenagers feel tired at school.

If your tween or teen falls short when it comes to shut-eye, schooldays can easily turn into school daze, with grades suffering as a result. What’s causing this? Too much technology may be the main culprit: 98% of children have either a phone, computer or TV in their bedrooms and two thirds have all three. A quarter of kids say they fall asleep watching the TV.

It’s up to parents to make the link between sleep and wellbeing – because teens are ignoring it, as top UK sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski, of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, says: “This is an incredibly worrying trend. What we’re seeing is the emergence of Junk Sleep – that is, sleep that’s neither the length nor quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly at school."

Parents who ban media from their children’s rooms also have problem sleepers on their hands: kids who simply refuse to go to bed or suffer from insomnia, night terrors and sleepwalking.

Another culprit can be sleep apnea, which is characterised by pauses in breathing that can rouse a child from sleep several times a night (snoring and unexplained tiredness during the day are giveaway signs that your child may be affected).

Often caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, sleep apnea in kids is increasing as the rate of child obesity rockets, since obesity can cause tonsils and adenoids to grow larger than normal. Children with sleep apnea on average score 15 points lower on IQ tests and it’s not too much of a leap to assume that tiredness at school may be a factor.

Sleep tips for school-age kids


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