Mrs Hanbury headmistress talking with students outside
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I have been moved to write about sleep again having just read this in the Times Educational Supplement:

The proportion of young people reporting sleep difficulties more than once a week increased from 23 per cent in 2014 to 30 per cent in 2018 – but drill down and those figures become more alarming. At age 15, 41 per cent of girls in 2018 reported having difficulties sleeping more than once a week (that figure was 28 per cent for boys).

The research also reveals that 92 per cent of 15-year-olds kept their phone in their room overnight, as did over 80 per cent of 13-year-olds.

This is a horrifying percentage and I hope that, like so many statistics, it is simply wrong. If it is right, it is huge problem for the future of these young people.

If you are one of the many adults who keeps your phone by your bed, think how much impact this has on your sleep. How often during the night do you check it or are you woken by it? And remember that you will be much better at ignoring it than any teenager will be – so what is your child doing with their phone during the night?

One of the most important messages I give to parents is to get phones out of their children’s bedrooms. If you haven’t already done this, please act now. If you fear your children’s reaction, here are some tips which might be helpful:

  • Set a good example by getting your phone out of your bedroom
  • Make a big fuss about doing this so that your children know you are not asking them to do anything you aren’t willing to do yourself
  • Go on a shopping spree to select a lovely new alarm clock
  • Read with them some of the research which illustrates the damage done by poor sleep and the negative impact that mobile phones have on their sleep
  • Suggest alternatives to phones in the bedroom, e.g., reading (a Kindle is fine, but not an iPad)
  • Promise a reward after a month without phones – and keep the promise at the end of every phone-free month
  • Do not allow bedroom phones during school holidays as a treat – this is an unfair tease as you will remove them again in term time
  • If all else fails, blame me!

Removing phones from bedrooms will make everyone feel better and this new habit will stand everyone in good stead throughout their lives, I know, so I have no qualms in forcing the issue.

By Mrs Hanbury - Head Mistress of LEH School

  • LEH School