It’s time to wake up

Photo of person holding alarm clock by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on PexelsThere have been a lot of articles in the press since the start of the pandemic reporting that people are getting more, but lower quality sleep. While that might be true for some, for millions more the reality has been quite different.

As a charity that supports families with their children’s sleep, Sleep Scotland has been able to continue providing support to parents and carers with advisors working remotely.

Over the past weeks, we’ve heard from families about the impact of COVID-19 on their children’s sleep. Families are reporting that their children are experiencing significantly increased worry and sometimes nightmares after seeing news reports on COVID-19.

We know that higher levels of anxiety make it harder to sleep, and that sleep deprivation is closely linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression for children and their families.

Losing the routine of the school week, being at home 24/7, reduced levels of physical activity and a decrease in exposure to sunlight can all lead to unsettling changes in the body’s circadian rhythms – making it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The need for parents to work alongside childcare can lead to children and teenagers increasing their use of smartphones, tablets and laptops, with too much screen time delaying sleepiness because of the wavelength of light given off by these devices and the stimulating effects they have on the brain.

The effects of sleep deprivation are not just limited to temporary cognitive impairment and a bad mood. Not getting enough sleep can have more detrimental and faster acting effects than poor nutrition or lack of exercise.

By contrast, the right amount of sleep boosts mood, supports mental wellbeing, and strengthens the body’s immune system.

For more than two decades Sleep Scotland have been training health and education professionals about the importance of sleep for the emotional and physical wellbeing of the young people they work with. We’ve had to adapt the way we work to meet physical distancing requirements and have just launched our first ever online training courses.

Sound Sleep Online is adapted from Sleep Scotland’s popular Sound Sleep training day. Everyone who attends via Zoom receives a teaching resource pack for education professionals working with school-aged children and teenagers and accessed through a new, members only section of our website.

We have also kept our Sleep Support Line running remotely for families living in Scotland to access advice and guidance. Drop us an email at sleepsupport@sleepscotland.org to access support for your child or teen aged over 18 months.

Healthy sleep is the bedrock of wellbeing. We believe that if we look after our own wellbeing and that of those around us, we’ll come out of 2020 having discovered new strengths that we didn’t know we had.

It’s time to wake up to the importance of a good night’s sleep.