Education Quandary: Our children, aged 11 and 15, don't go to sleep until late and seem unfit for school in the morning

Hilary's advice

A number of readers responded curtly to this, suggesting these parents need to take charge and tell their children when to go to sleep, but it isn't that easy. These sound like responsible parents. They send their children to bed at a reasonable time, and don't let them have televisions in their rooms. They don't say whether they also ask that mobile phones be left outside the bedrooms – and if they don't do this, then they should. But even without technological distractions, many of today's children have trouble sleeping. Their brains are jumping from having been exposed to so much screen-time during the day, and they often haven't had sufficient exercise to tire them out and make them want to sleep.

Yet we all need enough good sleep to function properly, and it isn't just our brains that are affected by the lack of it. Researchers now believe that heart problems, obesity, stress levels and digestive problems could also be linked to a disruption in hormonal cycles caused by sleep starvation. And young people, who are still growing, need much more sleep than adults.

These parents should see that their children get plenty of fresh air and exercise, eat a healthy diet, and always have some time to wind down before bed.

They should make sure their children's bedrooms are dark and well-ventilated, and they should talk to them about the importance of sleep and what happens when we don't get enough of it.

Readers' advice

I would say most of the pupils in my school are short of sleep, boys especially. They spend the morning waking up, revive for lunch, then pass the afternoon fighting sleep. Mondays are really bad and you can write Monday mornings off as learning time. In fact, school, in general, often seems wasted on them because they live in such a fog.

No matter how much you try to make a lesson interesting, there is always someone yawning at the back. (With no attempt to cover it up.) The school has sent notes to parents but it makes no difference. We don't think that anyone at home tells them when to go to sleep, and that they think that feeling half-asleep is normal. At least they are safely shut up in the classroom. I worry about what will happen when they are outside on the road, driving cars in this state.

Helen Tuck, Kent

This might be happening because it's the beginning of the school year. My children have always had trouble sleeping at this time. They get excited by things being new and different, and spend too long on homework projects trying to make a good impression.

Everything soon goes back to normal, although this still means that they have to be prised from their beds in the morning. This is just what children of this age are like.

Glynis Evans, Cardiff

When did teenage boys go to their bedrooms to sleep?

Jack Avery, London SE10

Next Week's Quandary

I am worried about reports in the newspapers saying that teaching assistants hamper children's progress. My eight-year-old daughter talks a lot about the teaching assistant in her class, and how she helps her with her maths, which is not our daughter's strong point. Should we speak to the school?

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com. They can be searched by topic.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Governors for Victoria Education Centre and Sports College

Voluntary non trustee post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Governors for Nash College

Voluntary non trustee post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable