According to NHS data analysed by the BBC’s Panorama programme, hospital attendances for children younger than 14 with sleep disorders have tripled in 10 years and 10 times more prescriptions of the common sleep medication melatonin have also been written for children and adults under 55 over the same period.
Poor sleep in children has been linked to a greater risk of obesity, lower immunity, and mental health issues. It is also linked to lack of emotional control and poor school performance.
Many aspects of modern living, says Panorama, are thought to interfere with children’s sleep, including blue light emitted by smart phones and tablets which has been shown to reduce the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
Other factors include homes where both parents work can be busier in the evenings, pushing bedtimes later while diet can play a role too.
Fizzy drinks, high in sugar and caffeine, have also made it harder for children to switch off at night while research suggests a strong link between sleep deprivation in teenagers and weight gain and poor sleep is thought to upset the balance of the hormones that tell our brains we are full or hungry, making it harder to control appetite.
So, when tired, we are more likely to crave foods high in sugar and fat.
Dr Catherine Hill, associate professor at the University of Southampton and consultant at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said: “We know there’s a cost burden to the NHS from childhood sleep difficulties. If we continue to ignore emerging research evidence about the importance of sleep to health, we’re potentially storing up problems for the NHS in future.”
While this is a concern for the NHS, clinical hypnotherapy can help too and has been shown to be of benefit in treating children with eating problems, anxieties, insomnia and similar issues which could be detrimental to their sleeping patterns.
The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 well-qualified and trained therapists across the UK on its register – all of whom can deal with these issues while some specialise in dealing with children.
“After sessions with a hypnotherapist the person may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that were previously challenging due to the anxiety and many say they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily. Those who have experienced side effects of anxiety such as insomnia, find that they are sleeping much better and as a result are able to work more effectively.”
We all need to wake up to the importance of sleep and there is an NCH hypnotherapist near you who can provide assistance. Simply click here to access the NCH directory and then enter your post code where required.