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Research: children with less sleep are more likely to struggle with worries

04/02/2019

New research released by Place2Be for Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 (4-10 February) suggests that children with less sleep are more likely to struggle with worries.

Children and young people who usually get less than the recommended 9 hours sleep on a school night are more likely to feel that worries get in the way of school work (32% vs 22%), according to a survey of over 1,100 10-11 year-olds and 13-15 year-olds carried out by Place2Be.

More than half (56%) of children and young people say they worry “all the time” about at least one thing to do with their school life, home life or themselves – and those getting less sleep are less able to cope with worries, saying they often don’t know what to do when they’re worried (22% vs 18%), and once they start worrying, they cannot stop (36% vs 28%).

For Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 (4-10 February), Place2Be is taking steps to be ‘Healthy: Inside and Out’. Because our bodies and minds are very closely linked, simple things that we do to improve our physical wellbeing – like eating, being active and sleeping – can help our mental wellbeing as well. Back in November, Place2Be released free resources, including assembly plans, slides, group activities and top tips to help schools and youth groups explore these different ways of looking after their bodies and minds.

Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be, said: “At least three children in every class have a diagnosable mental health issue, and many more worry about everyday concerns from exams to family life. Place2Be is supporting teachers and parents with advice on how sensible sleep habits, eating well and exercise help children cope with daily worries. However, further research is needed to explore if children are lacking sleep because they worry, or worry because they aren’t getting enough sleep.”

Susan Lawrence, head teacher at St Mary’s School in Brent, which works with Place2Be, said: “We notice that a lack of sleep can affect a child’s concentration, cognitive functions and ability to access the curriculum. As teachers we see a struggle to retain or process information which results in increased levels of anxiety and worry that will inevitably impact on their emotional health and well-being.”

Find out more about Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 (4-10 February) and how you can get involved

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