New research from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has found that the British public are missing out on a whole night’s sleep each week. The report, “Waking up to the health benefits of sleep”, finds that despite the links between lack of sleep and a wide range of physical, mental, behavioural and performance issues, four in ten people are not getting enough sleep each night. Of course, this figure is likely to be much higher for parents and families raising disabled children, with many waking during the night to comfort their children, keep them safe and administer medical routines.
The research stresses just how vital it is to get a good night’s sleep, and suggests that sleep should be a top priority for public health strategy. As part of this, they have created a list of ‘Slumber Numbers’, a rough guide to the amount of sleep an individual should get, based on their age. According to the research, adults aged between 18 and 64 should be sleeping between seven and nine hours a night, with children and young people sleeping for longer. Under-sleeping by just an hour a night can mean that over the course of a week, the equivalent of a whole night’s sleep is lost.
In order to combat this, the RSPH is calling on the government to implement a national sleep strategy, to include sleep as a key part of the Minister for Public Health’s remit, and for sleep to be made part of the curriculum in secondary schools. The report suggests that that more research should be undertaken into how school start times interact with young people’s circadian rhythms, or body clocks. The research also calls for more extensive training for healthcare professionals, so that GPs and nurses can not only screen for sleep issues and offer relevant treatment, but can also use sleep as a ‘hook’ for discussing more complex issues, such as mental health.
Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important, especially for families caring for a child whose condition makes sleep challenging and putting sleep on the public health agenda is a huge step in the right direction. If you would like to find out more about the work of the RSPH or read more about the research, you can visit their website or read the report in full.
If you would like to find out more about how to improve sleep in your family, you can search this site for helpful sleeping tips and find out more information from our partner organisations. You can keep up to date with the latest research surrounding sleep, and can also find a list of resources which include reward charts, books and links to comforters, white noise machines and more. Our calendar of sleep events lists sleep workshops and talks – why not see what’s happening in your area?