Monday 01/06/2020 - 11:29 am

More children than ever are being admitted to hospital for sleep disorders

2017.03.04 08:11

 The number of children under 14 being admitted to hospital for sleep disorders has tripled in the the last ten years, The Sunday People can reveal.

Ten 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.

New NHS data analysed by BBC Panorama reveals over 8000 children under 14 were admitted to hospital last year with sleep disorders compared to under 2000 in 1998.

Sleep deprivation is estimated to cost the UK £40bn a year.

Many aspects of how we live today are thought to interfere with children’s sleep including blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets which reduce the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.

Households where both parents work can be busier in the evenings, pushing bedtimes later and fizzy drinks high in sugar and caffeine have also made it harder for children to switch off at night

Ellie Keady, 13, recently spent the night under observation at Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s sleep service, which has seen a tenfold increase in referrals over the past decade.

Ellie goes to bed at 9pm but usually lies awake until at least 2:30am

She said: “Sometimes I’ll go to school and I’ll have had only two and a half hours’ sleep.”

Sleep deprivation has affected her education. She is often off sick due to exhaustion and viral infections.

Ellie has suffered sleep problems since she broke her foot in 2011.

She was unable to walk for months and started to put on weight.

She recently lost 2st 7lb (16kg) in six months on a strict diet and exercise regime, but has found dieting a challenge.

Research suggests a strong link between sleep deprivation in teenagers and weight gain.

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.

When tired, we are more likely to crave foods high in sugar and fat.

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