OPINION

Free slumber classes for teenagers

Adam Gabbatt

Parents have struggled for years to encourage children to go to bed on time. In Scotland, however, all the family should be enjoying sweet dreams in the future, as pupils are to be given lessons in how to sleep. The charity Sleep Scotland is providing classes free of charge in a pilot scheme at three schools in Glasgow in an attempt to tackle problems caused by a lack of sleep.

Glasgow city council estimates that as many as one in four teenagers are not getting the appropriate nine hours of slumber a night, and said there was “increasing evidence” suggesting a link between lack of sleep and obesity, lower academic achievement and depression. Jane Anstell, the director and founder of Sleep Scotland, said lack of sleep among U.K. teenagers was a “huge problem”.

“We started off working with kids with special needs with sleep problems,” she said. “And basically in my teenage clinic I felt I'd got a lot of kids who maybe didn't have ADHD or Asperger's — they had total sleep deprivation.” Ansell said the classes could help improve teenagers' behaviour. Nikki Cameron, a sleep counsellor at Sleep Scotland, put together an outline for the lessons and offered them to the council using funding from Children in Need. Here are Sleep Scotland's top tips for better sleep:

— Make sure you have a substantial main meal at a regular teatime.

— Restrict homework, exercise and computer games to the early evening.

— The hour before bedtime should be for relaxing and bathing, and should include no stimulating activities.

— Switch off the computer, mobile and television before having a bath. Try listening to music, radio, or read a book.

— Avoid chocolate, caffeine, additives, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime. Have have a warm milky drink instead.

— Your bedroom should be quiet and dark; make sure it is a media—free zone.

— Keep to a regular bedtime.

— In order to have a good sleeping pattern it is important to be consistent. This also includes having a set waking time. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010