LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2012) - New research out today reveals three quarters of British parents are clueless to how much sleep their child should be getting every night. So big is the problem, that the average young Briton is hitting the sack around 11.20pm on a school night.
The kids sleep study, which was carried out by the budget hotel chain Travelodge surveyed over 4,000 parents who have children aged between six and 15 years. Key research findings revealed that two thirds of British mums and dads reported their children are regularly not getting enough sleep during the week.
Six out of ten parents surveyed openly admitted they have no idea of the recommended levels of sleep for children or the direct effect that lack of sleep has on physical and mental health.
Experts suggest children need between 10-12 hours of sleep per night to reach their full potential however a staggering 74% of parents think seven hours or less of shut eye is sufficient for their child's wellbeing.
This lack of sleep knowledge amongst parents is leading to a nation of children who are on the brink of exhaustion. Chronic levels of sleep deprivation are affecting children's ability to learn and develop with over three quarters (79%) of parents reporting that their children admit to finding it difficult to concentrate at school.
Further research findings revealed that 82% of parents, who took part in the study, said their children regularly suffer from extreme daytime tiredness and over a quarter (26%) were told by teachers that their child had fallen asleep in class at least once a week in the last school year.
The research has found that nearly half of parents do not follow a regular bedtime routine and do not put their children to bed at the same time each night.
Dr Pat Spungin, child psychologist and family life specialist, said: "I agree there is very little information available to parents about the importance of a good night's sleep. Parents should be concerned about the effects of sleep deprivation on their children, as lack of sleep has a negative effect on a child's mood, concentration and attention. Research also shows that children who are sleep deprived do less well academically, show more problem behaviour and have lower levels of social skills.
"Scientific evidence shows that adequate night-time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and regular exercise for children to develop. With lack of sleep linked to poor academic performance, behavioural problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obesity, these research findings are alarming."
In today's economic climate which has led to increased pressure to work longer hours leaving less time at home with children, it seems traditional bedtime rituals are a thing of the past. Sixty seven per cent of parents sadly admit that they do not have time to read their children a bedtime story and in a bid to overcome their guilty work-life conscience, parents are allowing children to fall asleep to television shows, computer games and DVDs.
In the stark reality of today's lifestyle over half (56%) of parents admit that they allow their children to stay up late browsing the internet, texting their friends and watching television whilst they catch up on daily chores and work emails. Similarly, 70% of parents allow their children to play on a games console prior to bedtime every evening and 62% permit bedtime YouTube viewing every night.
This pre-bedtime activity is turning British children into living classroom zombies, and as a result young school children appear to be going through life "stoned" because parents allow them to sacrifice rest in favour of stimulating activities that lead to problematic sleep.
Alarmingly, two thirds of parents were unaware of the link between sleep deprivation and child obesity, and three quarters of parents were unaware of the association with drug and alcohol abuse in later life.
The Travelodge Child Sleep Study also highlighted issues around the quality of children's sleep. Two thirds of parents surveyed confessed that their children regularly suffer from disorders such as sleepwalking, snoring and sleep talking. And, one in 10 parents reported that their children regularly had nightmares.
The study also highlighted issues surrounding the understanding of sufficient sleep among parents and their children. 40% of parents said their children did not understand the benefits of getting a good night's sleep and nearly half (47%) said bedtime was a cause of arguments with their children. To avoid tearful tantrums a quarter of parents admitted to bribing their children to go to bed, using sweets, toys and even money as an incentive. Whilst 79% of parents said teaching children about the benefits of a good night's sleep was important, over half (55%) feel there is inadequate support and advice to help them fulfil this duty. 56% of parents believe the importance of sleep should be taught in schools to help them to address the problem at home.
In a bid to tackle child sleep deprivation, Travelodge has launched a 'Sleep School ' to help raise awareness of the issue and provide parents with expert guidance and advice. A free downloadable 'School Kid Slumber Guide' is available for parents and teachers alike at www.travelodge.co.uk. (The guide can be found in the news section on the site)
Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: "As a 'retailer of sleep', we found the results of our Child Sleep Study very worrying. It is evident that parents need help in sleep schooling and we believe our 'Sleep School ' is a much-needed step in the right direction. As a new school year begins we will help support both parents and teachers in communicating the value of a good night's sleep to schoolchildren."
Listed below are the sleeping guidelines for children and tips to help parents ensure their children are getting a good night's sleep:
- 2 to 3 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours
- 4 to 5 years 12 hours
- 6 years 11.5 hours
- 7 to 11 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours
- Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, give your child a warm bath or shower
- Make bedtime fun - read your child a story
- Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine prior to bedtime
- Avoid giving your child a large meal before bedtime
- Make after dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake
- Exercise should be included in your child's day to help them sleep well
- There should be no TV or music playing while your child is going to sleep
- Ensure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable
- Make sure the noise level in the house is low
The first budget hotel brand to launch in the UK in 1985, Travelodge now operates over 500 hotels and over 35,400 rooms across the UK, Ireland (11) and Spain (4). Travelodge plans to grow its estate to 1,100 hotels and 100,000 rooms by 2025. Over 13 million people stayed with Travelodge last year and 90% of reservations are currently made online at travelodge.co.uk, where room rates start at £19 per night. The chain employs over 6,000 staff.