Children’s Mental Health Suffers From Lack of Sleep

There’s not much you can do about lack of sleep if you live next door to a pub that carries on karaoke night until 3am. But a lack of sleep is damaging the mental health of children in the UK.

It’s a fairly obvious thesis, backed up with new research from Silentnight and the University of Leeds.

Psychologists at the university led by developmental cognitive psychologist and sleep expert Dr Anna Weighall, carried out a survey of 100 parents with children aged between 6-11 years of age.

The findings showed that 36 per cent of children in primary school get eight hours or less each night and 15 per cent just seven hours or less.

Dr Weighall is concerned that the lack of sleep could be ‘seriously’ impacting on the mental health of the children due to NHS guidelines recommending 10 hours of sleep a night minimum.

“Our research, carried out in conjunction with Silentnight, shows a strong relationship between poor sleep and reduced health related quality of life,” Dr Weighall says.

“Mental ill health can have a negative impact on sleep, likewise, poor sleep patterns can make mental health issues worse. I certainly think that lack of sleep can make mental health issues worse.”

Bullying at school and worries about homework, were also affecting children’s ability to sleep at night. Lack of sleep in children causes irritability, inability to regulate behaviour, lack of concentration and feeling unwell.

Establishing a regular bedtime routine and getting up at the same time each day was found to be the best way to make sure anxiety and stress didn’t affect sleep patterns, researchers say.