IT’S obvious when you think about it – if you don’t get a good night’s sleep you can’t function properly the next day.
Most of us are fully aware of the consequences for ourselves if we don’t get enough shut-eye.
But thousands of us also remain happy to let our children go to bed late, risking their growth, development and physical and mental health.
Out-of-school activities, social networking, electronic games and TV – not to mention homework – mean bedtime is getting ever later.
And it’s even harder for families with children of different ages to make sure everyone goes to bed at the right time.
But those behind a new initiative in Bournemouth hope to push sleep to the top of the agenda and make sure all young people are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for school.
When teacher Jane Rose spotted sleepy children in her Year 2 class, she decided to take action to help families tackle the issue.
She joined forces with Bournemouth University psychology lecturer Dr Andrew Mayers, family support and outreach worker Janet Gyer and parent support worker Pat Bate to tackle the issue.
Now the group have held their first Sleep Workshop at Winton Primary and hope to eventually roll the scheme out to other schools in the area.
“I noticed that some children were not able to concentrate and were obviously tired” said Jane. “We decided to do all we can to support parents and children in establishing a settled bed time routine.”
Dr Mayers said families should work together to establish routines that suit them and should also reward good sleep.
He said children between the ages of four and adolescence need at least 10 hours sleep each night and that adults need eight hours.
Janet added: “We are working towards long-term, better outcomes for families. No one deliberately deprives their child of sleep but, in many cases, family life would be better if children had more sleep and parents were able to have time to relax after their children had gone to bed.”
Dr Mayers recommends a wind-down time for children before bed, perhaps with a bed-time story, a bath or a one-to-one chat with a parent about their day.
And he said sleep patterns should not be changed by more than an hour at weekends or during school holidays, if possible. Jane said she is planning another sleep workshop at the school and added: “We are very proud to have pulled together a group of experts to deal with this issue.”