Children not getting the recommended amount of sleep

New research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) reveals that 32 per cent of primary and 70 per cent of secondary school children questioned had slept less than nine hours on the previous night.

The recommended minimum hours of sleep range from 9.5 to 11.5 hours for primary and 9 to 9.5 hours for secondary

The BNF survey also revealed that 44 per cent of secondary school children reported waking up at least once during the previous night.

The research, conducted as part of BNF Healthy Eating Week, taking place 10-14 June, surveyed 6,018 primary and secondary school students, aged 7 – 16 years, across the UK, and asked questions about their night time routines, sleep, and eating and drinking habits on the previous night.

‘Sleep Well’ is one of the focuses for this year’s BNF Healthy Eating Week, and aims to highlight why getting enough good quality sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle.

Looking into the barriers to a good night’s sleep, the survey revealed that 59 per cent of secondary school students and 49 per cent of primary school students stating that, on the night of the survey, they used screens (computers, tablets, phones, television) just before bed. On top of this, one in ten (9 per cent) secondary school students reported drinking a caffeinated drink before bed.

Only about a third of secondary and primary school students stated that they felt well rested or wide awake when they woke up and 32 per cent of secondary school students said it took them more than 10 minutes to get out of bed after their alarm went off.

Dr Lucy Chambers, Senior Scientist at BNF comments: “The implications of a bad night’s sleep can go much further than feeling tired. Where lack of, and disturbed, sleep can lead to both adults and young people feeling grumpy and irritable, regular poor quality sleep can have a negative impact on dietary choices, including higher intakes of calories and more frequent snacking on less healthy foods.”

The survey looked into how schoolchildren start their day, and reveals that a quarter of secondary school students reported not having anything to eat before school, with one in ten primary school students reporting that they did not eat breakfast that day. Of those who did have breakfast, only 17 percent of secondary school children reported including any fruit or vegetables. Additionally, a quarter of secondary school students do not drink anything before starting their school day that day.

All of the BNF Healthy Eating Week materials have been designed so that the initiative can be continued all year round. Visit  or  for more information.


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