Bedtime 'too late' for school children who suffer sleep deprivation
Huge levels of sleep deprivation among 11 and 12 year olds in a disadvantaged area have emerged in a new study showing that a quarter were not in bed before 11pm.
A further one in three (33pc) were only tucked up between 10pm and 11pm.
There was a dramatic improvement in sleep habits after a trial conducted by researchers at the Dublin City University (DCU) Educational Disadvantage Centre.
However, while the study raised awareness of the negative effects of the use of electronic media on sleep, that did not translate into a reduction in their use.
It is widely recommended school-age children and pre-teens should be obtaining a baseline of 10 hours sleep a night, according to study authors Dr Paul Downes and Ciara Hargadon of DCU.
Their research, published in 'Irish Educational Studies', involved 25 sixth-class pupils in a co-ed, urban school in an area of high poverty, their parents and their class teacher.
For the purposes of the research, the children were given several one-hour lessons on sleep health over the five weeks of the study and there was an information session for parents involving a sleep health consultant.
After the study, the proportion of children going to bed before 10pm rose from 42pc to 58pc, with an increase from 75pc to 96pc in those reporting a bedtime before 11pm. There was also a halving, from 63pc to 32pc, in the proportion of children describing themselves as going to school feeling they needed more sleep.
Dr Downes, who is director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, said the whole issue of sleep was neglected in national education policy and that their programme provided a possible model for implementing a sleep health programme in the primary curriculum.