Doctors at one of London’s top children’s hospitals have warned young people to cut their screen time and exercise more to get an all-important good night’s sleep and protect their long-term health, writes Kit Heren…
Teenagers’ sleep patterns have often been disrupted by life changes during the Covid-19 pandemic – which in the long-term can put them at greater risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes or heart problems.
Not sleeping properly can also stop children doing well at school and lead to anxiety or depression.
Doctors at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital have put together a resource pack to help teenagers sleep better and avoid these problems.
The tips given by the doctors include ending screen time an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine or sugary drinks after lunch, exercising regularly and getting natural light, working out a calm routine at bedtime, tackling things that make you anxious before bed, and meditation or deep breathing before bedtime.
Dr Michael Farquhar, consultant in paediatric sleep medicine at Evelina London and the lead author of the resource pack, said: “The last year has been particularly disruptive, and many teenagers’ sleep has been affected as a result. Sleep patterns change as puberty starts, with most body clocks shifting later, meaning the natural times to fall asleep and wake up can be out of sync with expectations of parents and schools.
He added that teenagers’ sleep routines could have changed over the past year, as school closures may have let them sleep later – but that the tips in the resource pack should help.
The full pack can be read here.