Sleep Deprivation, PSHE and Lifelong Learning for Living Well

Another day, another story about poor health issues for children and young people – both physically and mentally.

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Sleep deprivation and/or disturbed patterns of sleep are affecting an increasing number of children, according to BBC Panorama (to be broadcast imminently). So much so that hospital admissions relating to sleep deprivation for under 14 year olds has tripled in 10 years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39140836

Headline pointers from the short BBC video;

  • Children should get 9-11 hours sleep a night. Current average is 7 hours
  • Poor sleep is linked to long term health problems and lower achievement at school
  • It can be caused by poor diet and irregular routines

Tips for sleep.

  1. Go to bed earlier.
  2. Go to bed at the same time every night.
  3. Eat sleepy snacks (like a banana).
  4. Avoid fizzy drinks or caffeine.
  5. Bath or shower 30 minutes before bed.
  6. No TV, mobiles or tablets for an hour before bedtime.

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It’s not only youngsters who are suffering from sleeping problems. Nearly 600,000 prescriptions for the sleep-enhancing drug melatonin were handed out in 2015 in England. We can add to that a equal amount of people who are suffering but not going to the doctor, or self-prescribing . . . and so on it goes.

Sleep deprivation is evidently a huge problem.

Our attachment to smart phones and tablets is a serious issue. It’s an attachment that’s stopping us having enough sleep and making us extremely tired and lethargic when we wake in the morning. Children and young people are learning from us – from our behaviour. We can’t criticise them for wanting a world of excitement (and learning) from the Internet when we’re doing exactly the same thing.

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The reliance on gadgets, multi-media and computers of all kinds mean we spend more time at the screen, with a snack or two as we watch/type/read and less time exercising – both of which exacerbate sleeping problems.

Something has to change before we reach an insurmountable crisis point.

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One of the misconceptions about PSHE education – or Relationships Education as it is likely to be re-named – is that it’s only or mainly about puberty, sex and dose of healthy eating. In reality, it’s a far greater subject than these significant component parts.

If we’re going to educate, encourage, support and guide young people in how to live life well, we have to address some key issues  – and our own behaviour. We have to look inwardly as well as provide a wider local, national and global perspective on key aspects of health and wellbeing. We have to acknowledge the significant links between mental wellness, sleep deprivation, poor diets, lack of exercise, positive (and negative) relationships, educational achievements and aspirations, self-worth, values and attitudes, stress etc.

But an important starting point for children and young people is considering their own needs, their own passions, their own self-belief – their relationship with themselves, or as we would say, their ability to be personally intelligent.

How can we expect children and young people to be socially intelligent, empathetic, collegiate, collaborative, able to develop and maintain positive relationships if they don’t possess a cohesive idea of how to maintain physical and mental wellbeing for themselves?

A focal point for relationships education should be the individual child and his/her needs.

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And it’s not good enough to tell children that they need to sleep for 10 hours, that they need to eat healthily, that they must exercise regularly and that they should be “nice” to one another. Children have to discover, learn and manage this themselves – in addition to the knowledge that we provide.

The initial knowledge has to be inwardly digested with constant reiteration so that children begin to make decisions for themselves as they develop their skills, attitudes and values for being well.

We’re not suggesting that a healthy dose of PSHE or Relationships Education is going to cure all sleep deprivation in children and young people but this report, yet again, reiterates the urgency of need when it comes to a comprehensive curriculum for Relationships Education – that contributes to the long-term development of the child and its mental and physical healthy choices.

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About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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