'Sleep lessons' aim to sharpen up grumpy teenagers

By Huw Willams
Reporter, Good Morning Scotland

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pupils at schools in Glasgow are being given lessons in how to sleep.

The sessions, run by the charity Sleep Scotland, aim to teach pupils tips such as the importance of a bed-time routine and avoiding late-night television.

Experts say teenagers who seem grumpy and uncommunicative could actually be sleep deprived because they go to bed after midnight - even on week nights.

The advice for pupils is that they should be sleeping for more than nine hours a night.

Researchers found that after going to bed at 2300 or midnight, teenagers were staying awake for hours watching television, playing on games consoles, or browsing the internet.

Some pupils were getting as little as four or five hours sleep a night.


One of the schools taking part in the project is Bellahouston Academy in south-west Glasgow.

Fiona Patterson, head of health and wellbeing, said the survey results were "absolutely shocking".

"It doesn't surprise. They can't function on so little sleep," she said.

" I went to my bed at ten-ish rather than eleven, and I do feel a little bit more awake "
Teenage boy

Sleep Scotland says getting enough sleep boosts academic performance and sporting prowess. However going without can be linked to obesity and a greater risk of depression.

Jane Ansell, director of Sleep Scotland, said: "You wouldn't send somebody to school without having the right amount of food, so why would you send them without enough sleep?"

The charity hopes to use the pilot project to develop a pack which could then be offered to schools across Scotland.

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, have welcomed the study but say teachers already watch out for all aspects of their pupils' welfare.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "We are committed to providing guidance to young people so they can get the right amount of sleep and maximise their learning potential."

One 15-year-old who has attended the first of a series of sessions said he had tried going to bed early as a result of what he had been taught.

"I went to my bed at 10-ish rather than 11, and I do feel a little bit more awake," he said.

"I wasn't sleeping in French, as I usually do," he added, "so my French teacher is pleased anyway."