PIONEERING “sleep hygiene” lessons piloted in a Lothians school have been so successful that ministers are to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a national roll-out.
Teachers and charity workers at West Calder High in West Lothian said some exhausted youngsters had already been transformed by the Sound Sleep pilot, in which first and second-year pupils were taught about the importance of getting enough rest at night.
Bosses at charity Sleep Scotland, which works with young people suffering from severe sleep problems, welcomed the Scottish Government cash boost and said services at West Calder would be in line for expansion as part of moves to introduce the programme nationwide.
But they said more money would be needed to address the effects of widespread sleep deprivation among pupils with round-the-clock access to video-game consoles, mobile phones and TV. Sound Sleep development manager Janet Lindsay, who trained five sixth-year mentors to work with younger pupils at West Calder, said: “We are over the moon about getting this funding, but it only really scratches the surface.
“I did a lesson with each of the first-year classes at West Calder and I was amazed at how little they were sleeping – maybe only six hours a night when it should be more like nine.
“Teenagers going without sleep is so prevalent, and it’s going unrecognised.”
As part of Sound Sleep, West Calder pupils were taught about the biology of sleep, how technology can interrupt it and steps they can take to ensure they get enough rest at night.
Senior teachers said sleep deprivation was a serious problem for some pupils, who struggle even to make it to class.
Deputy headteacher Lindsay Scobie said: “They just cannot get up for school in the morning because they’re up all night.
“It’s a big issue – it explains the lack of effort in some cases – and it’s why we introduced these classes.
“We’re really pleased they’re here.”
Scottish Government officials confirmed that a “proportion” of £200,000 allocated to Sleep Scotland for 2013-15 would be spent on Sound Sleep.