School pupils need lessons in getting a good night’s sleep

stick_figure_sleeping_1600_wht_5121Teensleep is a project being rolled out in English schools by Oxford University to help pupils sleep better and improve their exam results as a result.

The teenagers will be taught about their body clocks and the circadian rhythm which shifts in their teens and again when they reach their twenties. They will also learn about the damaging effects of watching TV or playing video games late at night and how the blue light from screens disrupts their sleep cycle.

The project will involve 100 schools divided into four groups. One will start classes at 10.00 am or later, one group will receive sleep education, one group will have sleep education and start lessons later, and the fourth (control) group will follow the usual school timetable.

Professor Russell Foster hopes to get enough data from the project to enable a definitive view to be reached. He said “Studies in the States have shown that if you start the school day later you can reduce self-harm and truancy and academic performance goes up.

Pupils’ grades will be measured before and after the interventions and wrist-worn monitors will record sleep patterns. The teenagers’ modes will also be assessed.

One college principal says that “parents have a more relaxed attitude about bedtimes these days and teenagers’ rooms are like entertainment zones. A lot of kids are involved in playing video games against kids from other countries across different time zones so they stay up much later. The 24/7 social media lifestyle is a real issue. If you wake up in the night and find you have to reach for your phone to check what is on, that will prevent you going back to sleep

Many children are suffering from poor quality or disrupted sleep and as a result are tired and irritable in school. They fuel themselves on  caffeine or sugary drinks, and then they can’t sleep. Professor Foster thinks teenagers need nine hours sleep a night for peak intellectual performance.

  • Sleep helps consolidate memories, integrates information, and clears toxins from the brain.
  • Lack of sleep increases impulsivity, reduces empathy and causes memory difficulties. It also releases hormones which make you feel hungry which contributes to the obesity epidemic.

Not everyone agrees with starting school lessons later. As one head said “We have to prepare pupils for the adult world, which often doesn’t revolve around them”.

Improve your sleep by:

  1. making sure your bedroom is comfortable and dark with no distracting noises
  2. have a winding-down routine 60-90 minutes before bedtime. Read a book or play relaxing music. Write a diary or plan the next day.
  3. switch off all electronic devices and televisions at least an hour before you want to sleep
  4. don’t use smart phones, iPads or watch TV in bed
  5. set a regular time to get up and stick to it
  6. if you are not asleep in 15 minutes go through your winding-down routine again until you feel sleepy

Too many people are addicted to their smart phones and suffer from FOMO. Students are particularly obsessed with social media

Source: Sunday Times

See previous post on getting a good night’s sleep and becoming smarter

Bored teenagers costing parents a packet during holidays

stick_figure_hitting_beach_ball_1600_wht_8083A survey by the National Citizen Service, a holiday youth programme, found that while younger children looked forward to the Summer holidays teenagers were less thrilled.

Their report goes on to quote figures of up to £4,000 that parents spend tyring to keep their teenage kids happy.

And FYI teenage boredom is expected to reach a peak on August 10th!

The survey found that teenagers expected their parents to spend £300-£400 a week on them during the holidays and some went even higher up to £600.

Give me a break. This generation of narcissistic children need to learn some harsh facts. Not all parentss can afford to spend that kind of money and they need to overcome their sense of entitlement.

60% of teenagers said they would struggle to find things to do and a third rely on their parents to plan their holiday activities.

Most of them expect to spend hours on social media sites – no doubt moaning to their on-line friends about how bored they are.

When asked parents looked back on their first holiday as a teenager without the family was one of the rite of passage for them and wished they had spent more time away from their families. However 50% felt that they were guilty of over-proecting their children.

Fat teenagers don’t get it

stick_figure_overweight_scale_1600_wht_3853They watch TV programmes about obesity – which usually feature clinically obese people – and think they are OK, even though they are overweight and probably in danger of becoming obese.

Being obese puts people at increased risk of diabetes and increasingly of cancer (an estimated 18,000 cases a year).

When researchers from Cancer Research UK asked teenagers aged 13 to 15 if they were overweight or OK, 40% of those who were overweight or obese thought they were OK.

Obesity, which accounts for about a fifth of cancer deaths, is set to overtake smoking as the main cause of cancer.

The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, said “Programmes about overweight people tend to show very obese people. Some teenagers who see these images probably think that is what an overweight person looks like so they might not realise if they are slightly overweight”. 

Sarah Jackson, who led the study, said that parents often underestimate the problem putting it down to “Puppy fat“.  Also growing levels of obesity are normalising overweight people as “normal”.

In the study only three-quarters of the teenagers had a bmi within the normal weight range (NB bmi is not the best measure). 20% were overweight and 7% obese.

80% thought they were the right weight, 7% that they were too heavy, and 10% that they were too light. Girls were more likely than boys to think they were too heavy.

Professor Jane Wardle from the Cancer Research UK Health BehaviourResearch Centre at UCL said “Young people who think they’re overweight when they’re not can sometimes develop devastating eating disorders, so we’re delighted that most of the normal-weight teenagers had a realistic view of their body size. But we need to find effective ways of helping too-heavy teenagers slim down and maintain a healthier weight”

Other posts about obesity

Teenagers, what can you do with them?

rioters_rock_car_500_wht_12691Apparently shouting at them only makes their behaviour worse.

Research at the University of Pittsburgh found that “harsh verbal discipline was detrimental in all circumstances”

They found that 13 year-olds whose parents had shouted at them suffered more depressive symptoms the following year than their peers who were not disciplined in that way. They were also more likely to misbehave at school, lie, steal, and fight.

The researchers followed almost 1,000, mainly middle-class, 13 and 14-year old children and their parents for two years asking how much verbal discipline was used. They also asked about the parent-child relationships, parental warmth and the feelings of teenagers and their parents.

Previous studies have concentrated more on physical discipline so this is one of the first to look at ver. The professor who led the research said that “teenagers feel insulted and it reduces their self-esteem. Sometimes they wonder if their parents love them and it hurts.”

The NSPCC said that a parent swearing and shouting at children may be emotionally abusing them and that adult survivors of child abuse say it’s the emotional abuse which lasts the longest.

Youngsters DO lack grit, say employers: Minister is backed over controversial claim that school leavers aren’t fit for work

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Businesses yesterday backed a minister who triggered controversy by saying young people lack the ‘grit’ to get jobs.

Nick Hurd was criticised after saying qualities such as ‘confidence, discipline and self-control’ were not being taught at school, in an interview with the Mail.

But yesterday business leaders and even senior Labour MPs lined up to agree that many teenagers have been left ill-equipped for the job market.


 Mr Hurd’s comments caused controversy on Tuesday but he has since been proven right as business leaders rush to confirm his theories

Neil Carberry, a director at the CBI, said: ‘What employers tell us is very much around grit, tenacity, self-determination to get on with colleagues, which is what Nick Hurd is talking about.

‘The Government has rightly pushed for more rigorous exams, but there is also space in the curriculum for character skills. Head teachers are only judged on their GCSE results…

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Children less happy nowadays

comedy_masks_happy_sad_500_wht_759The Children’s Society say that their research shows that 14 and 15 year olds are the most miserable feeling down about school and anxious about their appearance.

But most of all they feel frustrated by their lack of freedom and autonomy as parents tried to protect them from drugs, the internet and other aspects of modern life.

The Society thinks parents are too quick to dismiss it as teenage moodiness rather than trying to find out if their child is being bullied or has other problems.

14% of 14- and 15-year olds were found to have “low well-being” compared to 5% of 8-year olds.

This is a follow-up to the Society’s 2009 “Good Childhood” report which found that 1.5 million children were deeply unhappy. Rowan Atkinson, then the Archbishop of Canterbury, blamed parents saying that too many were “selfishly pursuing their own happiness”.

The new report found that children who embraced simple solutions and pleasures were the happiest. Those who talked to their parents about problems, had good friendships and got plenty of fresh air, played sport or read books felt better than those who didn’t. See “Ways to be happy?” and “Are you happy

The single most important factor was having good relationships with parents and siblings.

A psychotherapist who helped with the study of 42,000 children ( so she’s coming at this with a particular view I would suggest) said young teenagers were paying the price for their parents’ anxieties as parents feel more protective. Young people need to feel more independent and be allowed to make mistakes.

The CEO of the Society said ” we should be paying particular attention to improving the happiness of teenagers … (we should work) to solve family conflicts or being bullied.”

As someone who once was a teenager and has had teenage children I can sympathise to some extent. But who says teenagers, or anyone else for that matter, have a right to be happy? It’s hard to separate their natural moodiness as hormones kick in, their sense of rebellion as they pull away from their parents’ influence, from other issues like bullying? They don’t always help themselves.

Children are more narcissistic now than previous generations, they think it’s “all about them” and they rely on being digital to make (and lose) “friends“. Reality shows have distorted their expectations. And parents and teachers have played their part  by treating their kids like little princesses and “over-parenting”.

But I don’t believe modern teenagers are any more unhappy than previous generations.