Primary School Children Damaging Academic Development with Poor Sleep

British primary school children are not getting enough sleep and it’s significantly affecting their academic chances, a new study finds.

According to University of Leeds and Silentnight, children are getting ‘dangerously low’ levels of sleep.

The research examined the effect of bedtime routines and how it impacted on the quality of life and cognitive development of children aged 6 to 11 years of age.

NHS guidelines currently recommends ten hours sleep for this age group, but some are struggling to manage as little seven hours.

Poor routines at home and using smartphones and tablets is robbing youngsters of an hour to begin with. A total of 83 per cent of children had to be up at 6.30am on a weekday, yet 5 per cent of them were still awake at 10pm the previous night and 16 per cent yet to sleep at 9pm.

Developmental cognitive psychologist Dr Anna Weighall, a sleep expert led the research in consultation with more than a thousand parents.

Dr Anna Weighall said: “Our results show that children who experience inadequate sleep are more likely to have problems paying attention in class, forgetting things and keeping up with school work, and may then end up missing school because they feel unwell.

“What’s clear from our data is that parents know how much sleep children should be getting but for whatever reason it’s not being made a priority and children just aren’t getting the necessary time in bed. From looking into bedtime and waking patterns we can see that families are consistently going to bed late during the week and on top of this children are regularly having later nights at weekends, disrupting their sleep patterns and contributing to problems during the school week.”

According to Dr Weighall, parents are also getting ‘chronically’ low levels of sleep, with 50 per cent getting six hours or less per night and 24 per cent just five hours or less.

As well as smartphones, children were also keeping themselves awake worrying about school issues such as bullying and homework.

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