Sluggish underachievers: Why do so many parents let their children stay up far too late?

Anyone who puts a TV screen in a young child’s bedroom, or who allows them to go to bed clutching a flickering game is seriously misguided

Share
Related Topics

Children need more sleep than adults. A generation ago it didn’t need spelling out. But now hardly a week goes by without another study demonstrating that today’s children are sleep-deprived. They sleep, we’re told, at least an hour less per night than they did 30 years ago. And that makes a big difference.

Ask any British teacher about the yawning in classrooms or even, in extremes, children falling asleep over their work. No surprises then than too little sleep has been shown to inhibit academic progress.  And now this week there’s a report from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia which finds that the less they sleep the more likely children are to be overweight.

So why on earth don’t parents simply put their offspring to bed early in the evening so that they can get the 12 hours or so which the youngest children benefit from and that means bed at around 7.00pm for children who are, say, under eight? It doesn’t mean sitting up watching TV, mooching about the house, whining with tiredness until it’s time to put the cat out.

It isn’t difficult if you start as you mean to carry on and stick to your guns. I did it with both of mine – a bath and a story and then tucked up in bed at the same time every night. Not only is this very good for children, but it also gives the adults in the household some breathing space and the chance to hold an uninterrupted, grown up conversation – the sort which nurtures a relationship.

I sometimes wonder, in fact, whether the modern habit of keeping weary, fractious children up far too late – because establishing and maintaining a routine is too much trouble or smacks too much of dictatorship - could be a factor in the high level of relationship breakdown we now take for granted.

Yes, I know there are distractions today which used not to be there. But anyone who puts a TV screen in a young child’s bedroom, or who allows him or her to go to bed clutching some sort of flickering, game-bearing screen really is seriously misguided. There is enough evidence to sink a battleship that screens immediately before bedtime disturb sleep (in adults as well as children). Ban screens from the bedroom from birth – then there is no argument to have.  

Do we want our children to get a good night’s sleep and to be alert, bright, healthy and slim or would we prefer surly, sluggish, yawning underachievers? I think we have a choice.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Marketing Manger,Mill Hill,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

JQuery Developer (JQuery, C#, front-end, JQuery, UI, Tomcat)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organ...

Senior Sales Supervisor

£75000 - £100000 per annum + bonus, bens: Progressive Recruitment: Sales Super...

Linux Systems Administrator - UNIX, Linux, Shell, Bash

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - UNI...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Labour Party are announcing that they would spend £5.5 billion to guarantee a job for every young person who has been out of work for a year and every adult unemployed for two years  

Growing up in an age of austerity has left its mark on today's young people

Simon Kelner
 

Here's how to turn the tables on tax avoiders

James Moore
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil