Children's lack of sleep is 'hidden health crisis', experts say

NHS Digital have released new information about children and teenagers who are admitted to hospital with sleep problems.

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The Guardian analysed data from NHS Digital, the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system in England, revealing that admissions with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder among those aged 16 and under has risen from 6,520 in 2012-13 to 9,429 last year.

It comes despite the fact that admissions for all ages for sleep disorders has fallen slightly since 2012-13, moving from 29,511 to 29,184 in 2017-18.

“Sleep issues are a huge problem … it’s a hidden public health crisis,” said Rachael Taylor, a child sleep consultant at The Sleep Sanctuary. “There is a lot of sleep anxiety being diagnosed at the moment; it’s a new area that we are looking at, dealing with more children who have anxiety and it is coming out in sleep issues.”

One mother, Susan, 49, from south-east London, whose 14-year-old son experiences trouble sleeping, said she wished there was more support from the NHS. “GPs don’t always understand about sleeplessness unless you get lucky.” Susan’s son is autistic and she said it was common for children with the condition to have sleep difficulties.

Vicki Dawson at the Children’s Sleep Charity said that at the moment sleep support for parents and young people was “a postcode lottery”. She noted that in Doncaster the Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned a full sleep service from the charity and recently nearby Bassetlaw duplicated the service after seeing the huge impact it has had in the area.

“In other areas families are left in crisis unable to access support; we have medical practitioners signposting families to the charity and simply cannot meet demand as we receive no funding,” she said.

You can read the full article on The Guardian website.

Find out more about Teen Sleep and ideas to help your Teen sleep better on our Teen Sleep page