With the warm weather and exhausted children on the brink of the summer holidays, a new poll has revealed that 12% of parents have kept their children home from school due to over-tiredness.
Parents across the South East (69%) have also admitted that their child needs more sleep than they get with 12% of children in the South East even reportedly falling asleep in class, according to a new poll. The new sleep study commissioned by leading online parenting resource Families Online www.familiesonline.co.uk surveyed parents in the South East of the country with school-aged children up to 12 years of age and looked at the main issues associated with sleep deprivation in younger children.
More than half of the parents surveyed (54%) said that on average their child appears tired a few times a week, while a further 17% said their child suffers with tiredness every day after school and 12% of parents even admitted they have kept their child home from school because they were too tired to go in.
Children suffer from sleep deprivation for several reasons and parents in the South East have revealed the top barriers that stop their little ones from drifting off at night, ahead of the summer holidays:
Waking up too early in the morning before school (23%) Lighter and warmer evenings stopping kids from getting to sleep (21%) The impact of long school days (18%) Playing outside/or after school activities (14%) Late nights at the weekend (8%) Bad dreams and broken sleep (6%) Playing on devices or watching TV before bedtime (6%) Sharing a bedroom with siblings and being kept awake was an issue for some children (3%) Having dinner too late (1%) The new sleep study comes just ahead of the school summer holidays, where bedtime routines for children become notoriously less rigid, yet experts across the country believe this could have a damaging knock-on effect in sleeping patterns that can be hard to catch up on.
Headmaster at Edge Grove School Ben Evans, told Families Online: “Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for children if they are to actively respond and engage positively in their learning at school. School days can be long and tiring and despite our best intentions, we are sometimes faced with obstacles out of our control such as the recent heat wave and increasingly lighter evenings which all hinder the likelihood of an early night. With the summer holidays approaching it can also be tempting to let bedtime routines go completely out of the window, but it’s worth retaining some kind of pattern if you can, albeit less rigid, just to ensure your child does not lose out on too much sleep ahead of the new school term, because it can be difficult to catch up and can make for an exhausted, emotional child come September.”
A high number of parents in the South East (30%) also revealed that their child sometimes has a late bedtime on a school night with one in 10 parents saying late nights are a regular occurrence.
Older siblings can also cause issues for parents trying to instil a good sleep routine, as 21% of parents said they sometimes let their younger child go to bed at the same time as an older sibling, for a quiet life.
What the experts say:
Dr Kalpesh Dixit, Consultant Paediatrician at Pall Mall Medical www.pallmallmedical.co.uktold Families Online,“Sleep allows a child’s brain to develop behaviours, memory and social skills and a normal sleep pattern is important for physical and mental health. When a child isn’t getting enough shut-eye it can impact negatively on their development however, as a paediatrician, I’ve spoken to a number of parents for whom bedtime has become an everyday battle. A disrupted sleep pattern, night terrors and sleep walking are typically linked to developmental phases, such as puberty or social and emotional upheavals in the family. In some less common cases, it could be the result of an underlying medical condition like ADHD, autism or narcolepsy – if you have any concerns, you should consult your paediatrician or GP.”
Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of The Gentle Sleep Book and founder of Gentle Sleep Training sarahockwell-smith that expectations top the list as the cause of most sleep problems in childhood, she told Families Online: “Parents are commonly worried that their children are not getting enough sleep, so they try to encourage an earlier bedtime, however in many cases, this bedtime can be at the biological odds of what the child needs. If your child naturally needs less sleep, trying to make them take the higher end of average amount of hours of sleep is going to end in disaster.”
Advising parents on helping children to sleep better, child psychologist and sleep practitioner at HappySleepers www.happysleepers.co.uk, Jenny Stephenson told Families Online: “It’s important to promote a healthy relationship with sleep and prioritise sleep as a family. Talk about sleep, how clever it is and why people need to sleep. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it – consistency and routine go a long way and they are all the more important if your child has difficulties with sleep.”
Dr Kalpesh Dixit continued: “Insomnia in children isn’t uncommon, but the good news is that it can usually be remedied with some simple lifestyle changes. Here are some top tips to help your child get the rest they need for a healthy body and mind.”
Avoid: stimulants like caffeine, foods with a high-sugar content and electronic devices. Implement: a regimented sleep schedule in the lead up to bedtime, small things like a relaxing bath and storytime will encourage good sleeping habits. Be calm: when enforcing bedtimes, children will pick up on your frustrations so make sure to use positive reinforcements and comforting techniques rather than shouting. Communicate: ask your child about their school and home life, if they are worried or stressed about something talk through this with them. Reward: by praising children and introducing a sleep chart we can encourage them to think of sleep in a positive way.