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Can’t sleep, won’t sleep

30 July 2012

By Maisie Gibson.

Dr Adrian Mayers was interviewed by Clare Shaw of TES magazine on 27 July on his latest study into the sleep patterns of primary school children. The study comes after local teachers began to notice that many children were simply too tired to learn, becoming unresponsive in class or causing disruption with other children.

Concerned with how not getting enough sleep can have adverse effects on children’s education and health. Dr Mayers told TES “It’s clearly a problem and I am certain there are more schools that would also like to find ways to improve the sleep of children attending class” and has begun a series of sleep workshops at Kinson Primary School in Bournemouth. A “pioneer in sleep research”, Mayers and other psychologists will look at how factors such as changes in sleep routines and distractions in bedrooms such as personal TVs can disrupt sleep. Modern attitudes and a failure to monitor electronics usage are obviously contributing problem, parents reporting that their 10 year old will get texts at two in the morning and feel they have to reply or be seen as “not cool”.

The article goes on to outline the various health issues that come with prolonged irregular sleep. If people sleep badly as children, it is likely that they will be more affected later in life; “They will tend to be overweight, they will tend to have blood pressure problems and they may well develop diabetes in later life, heart problems, depression, mental health problems”. Such long term health issues would be a large burden on the system, and there is a call for action in primary schools as soon as possible, alongside raising awareness of the issue to the general public-prevention being better than cure. It is hoped that the combination of Dr Mayer’s workshops completed in conjunction with sleep diaries and a stricter enforcement of earlier bedtimes will begin to show positive results soon.

Maisie Gibson, 17, is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. She joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from her college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer. For further details about the scholarship can be seen online.

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