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Posted: 2019-01-11 18:38:00

Health care providers are alarmed by the rise in sleep disorders, but is it the kids or the parents who are in need of education?

That young people don't sleep enough should come as no surprise to parents, who are often frustrated by the night-owl tendencies and early morning lethargy of their offspring. But the problem may be far more serious than parents realize. Sleep, British researchers announced in a BMJ study published last fall, has a greater impact on a child's wellbeing than bullying, physical activity, and screen time.

Other experts have called sleep issues a "hidden public health crisis" and say it is being diagnosed in ever-growing numbers. The Guardian reported that an analysis of National Health Service data shows "admissions with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder among the under-17s has risen from 6,520 in 2012-13 to 9,429 last year despite falling overall for all ages... in the same period."

So, it would seem fitting that the PSHE Association (the national body for Personal, Social, Health and Economic education professionals in the United Kingdom), in conjunction with the Evelina London children’s hospital, has recently published a curriculum for teaching children how to sleep. The new Sleep Factor lesson plans, now available online for members to download, are designed to help students between the ages of 7 and 16 to:

– Recognise what good quality sleep is and why it is important
– Identify habits and routines that promote good quality sleep
– Understand how sleep patterns change during adolescence

One of the co-authors of the BMJ study, Prof. Russell Viner of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has endorsed the curriculum, stating:

"At a time where there is so much competition with sleep, thanks to technology and lifestyles, any education on the importance of sleep will be beneficial for today’s modern children and young people. I hope they take note of the advice being taught and they quickly reap the benefits."

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