According to new research presented at this year’s British Sleep Society conference, more than one in three primary school children does not get sufficient sleep and falls behind in school as a result. The data was gathered by sleep researchers at the University of Leeds and funded in part by bed manufacturer Silentnight. The study found that more often than not, these sleep-deprived children face difficulties keeping their attention on schoolwork, fall behind on assignments, and generally do not have the same level of academic performance as their more rested peers.

The National Health Service in Britain recommends that children in primary school should get ten hours of sleep each night. However, 36% of children who participated in this new study were reported to only get eight hours of sleep or less each night. Perhaps predictably, the researchers behind this new study identified a link between technology use and sleep habits (what else?). According to Dr. Anna Weighall, lead researcher in this study and a professor of psychology at the University of Leeds, screen time and sleep time often exhibit an inverse relationship:

There is a clear relationship between technology use and shorter sleep duration. We asked parents if their child had technology in the bedroom, and having the technology in the bedroom is associated with much shorter sleep durations in children. Where parents are able to encourage their children not to have technology in the bedroom at all, the sleep outcomes are much better.

34% of parents reported that their child or children had access to a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device in the hour preceding bedtime, while many parents admitted that their children have access to electronic devices in their own bedrooms. Interestingly, it’s not just young children who reported sleep problems in this study; 40% of the parents who participated also reported not getting enough sleep. Remember, parents: your children’s behavior is (to some extent) largely modeled after what they see at home. If you want them to put down the screens before bed, try doing it yourself.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina.
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