THE average six year old does not go to bed until after 9.30pm, according to a survey that suggests as many as two thirds of children are not getting enough sleep.
The problem is so serious that over a quarter of youngsters claim they cannot concentrate in school and even fall asleep in class at least once a week.
Traditionally younger children went through the ritual of having a bedtime story before going to sleep.
Now they are much more likely to nod off to the sound of a TV show, a computer game or a DVD.
Older children sacrifice essential rest time browsing the internet, playing computer games, texting their friends or watching television.
Almost 70 per cent of children play on a games console every evening, with 62 per cent watching YouTube every evening. Some admitted to staying up until 5am playing on their consoles.
The study, based on the sleep patterns of 2,000 children, suggests that only a third of youngsters are getting a good night’s sleep.
Geographically, children in Birmingham get by on the least amount of sleep – an average of seven hours and 28 minutes a night for a child aged 10. Those of the same age in Oxford have the most at 11 hours and 22 minutes.
The poll shows that the average six year old goes to sleep at 9.33pm, while at eight it is 9.49pm. By the time children reach 15 the average bed time is apparently 11.52pm.
Researchers who carried out the study for Travelodge are particularly concerned about the distractions affecting children.
“Pre-bedtime activity is turning British children into living zombies,” they say.
“As a result young Britons appear to be going through life `stoned` because they sacrifice rest in favour of spending more hours at their computer or games console.”
Jan Turner, from the Sleep Council, said: “These findings echo the results of our own recent research, where we conducted a survey of 250 primary school teachers.
“This found that lack of sleep is having a devastating effect in schools with nine out of 10 teachers complaining that pupils are so tired they are unable to pay attention in class.
“More than a third (38%) said this is a daily problem for them.”
Many parents are simply not strict enough about enforcing bedtimes, she added.
“A good night’s sleep is critical for the development and well-being of young children and we believe that regular bedtimes, along with the right sort of sleeping environment - a good bed, well-ventilated room and one that is free from the distractions of TVs and electronic gadgets - is vital to achieving this.”