Schoolchildren to be offered sleep lessons after rise in disorders
Move follows concerns about ‘hidden health disaster’ of sleeplessness among young
Schoolchildren across Britain may be offered sleep lessons to help tackle the problem of insomnia among young people.
The lessons became available to teachers at the end of last year and were devised by the PSHE Association and the department for sleep medicine at Evelina London children’s hospital.
The lessons focus on giving children strategies for getting to sleep and raising awareness about how sleep needs change in adolescence.
A recent paper in the British Medical Journal suggested that sleep has a greater impact on an adolescent’s mental wellbeing than bullying, physical activity and screen time.
Concern has also been raised about what has been described as the “hidden public health disaster” of sleeplessness among young people.
A Guardian analysis of data from NHS Digital, shows admissions with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder among the under-17s has risen from 6,520 in 2012-13 to 9,429 last year despite falling overall for all ages from 29,511 to 29,184 in the same period.
“Sleep issues are a huge problem … it’s a hidden public health crisis,” said Rachael Taylor, the founder of the Sleep Sanctuary. “There is a lot of sleep anxiety being diagnosed at the moment; it’s a new area that we are looking at, dealing with more children who have anxiety and it is coming out in sleep issues.”
Experts say the increase in sleep problems is down to a combination of higher obesity levels, excessive use of social media before bedtime and a mental health crisis among young people.