New PSHE lessons to help tackle ‘sleep crisis’ in children


Children and young people’s sleep is an increasingly important issue. Poor quality and insufficient sleep can be both the cause and effect of wider health problems. Indeed, a new British Medical Journal (BMJ) paper suggests that sleep has a stronger impact on child mental wellbeing than bullying, physical activity and screen time.

This is also recognised in the Government’s statutory health education guidance, which suggests that all pupils should understand ‘the importance of sufficient good quality sleep for good health and that a lack of sleep can affect weight, mood and ability to learn’.

We are therefore delighted to launch new PSHE education lesson plans and guidance for our members on developing and promoting healthy sleep habits. The key stage 2 lesson introduces changes to sleep that occur during puberty, and the key stage 3 lesson explores healthy sleep routines; at key stage 4 we explore the impact of quality sleep on performance and wellbeing. These lessons help students:

  • recognise what good quality sleep is and why it is important
  • identify habits and routines that promote good quality sleep
  • understand how sleep patterns change during adolescence

We are grateful to the Department of Children’s Sleep Medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital for their advice and support in creating these resources.

-Dr Charlie Tyack, Department of Children’s Sleep Medicine at Evelina London, says:
“Good quality sleep is a key foundation for emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as educational performance. Everyone's sleep requirements differ, so a one-size-fits-all approach to sleep tends not to work for everyone. These PSHE lessons reinforce the importance of sleep and help young people to think realistically about how to give themselves the best chances of getting the sleep they need to reach their full potential.”
-Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), says:
“There are many factors that can lead to good or improved child health and alongside regular exercise and a balanced diet, sleep plays a major part. There is more and more evidence emerging that lack of sleep has a major impact on children’s mental and physical health, as well as learning. And at a time where there is so much competition with sleep thanks to technology and lifestyles, any education on the importance of sleep will be beneficial for today’s modern children and young people. I hope they take note of the advice being taught and they quickly reap the benefits.”
- PSHE Association Subject Specialist Jenny Fox says:
“These lessons equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills and strategies they need to take increasing responsibility for the quality of their sleep. Pupils are encouraged to explore the myths related to getting good sleep, offer advice to others about improving evening routines and understand the many benefits of improving the quality of their sleep. The lessons are designed to be taught as part of a planned PSHE curriculum which promotes health and wellbeing.”

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