New on school timetable: 9 hours' sleep

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Teenage pupils in Scotland are to be taught how to get a good night's rest in an attempt to improve performances at school.

Instruction packs that include lesson plans on how to help grumpy teenagers to sleep better will be distributed to Scottish teachers later this month.

The packs, which were formulated by charity Sleep Scotland in conjunction with Lothians further education centre Jewel & Esk College, aim to teach pupils tips such as the importance of avoiding watching television, playing computer games or surfing the internet late into the night, as well as the importance of a bedtime routine.

The Sound Sleep teaching pack will include handouts, Powerpoint presentations and learning resources as well as a sleep quiz designed to test teachers on how much they know about their pupils' sleeping habits.

The launch of the project, which will take place at a sleep education conference in Glasgow next Tuesday, follows a successful pilot scheme carried out last year in which teenagers reported the benefits of being taught how to sleep.

Researchers on the project discovered that teenagers should be sleeping for more than nine hours a night. However, they found that after going to bed at 11pm or later, many teenagers stay awake for hours watching television or using a computer, leaving them exhausted the next day.

According to Sleep Scotland, the pilot "challenged the attitudes of teenagers who saw sleep as unimportant and followed the improvements in their school performance as the experiment progressed".

Jane Ansell, director and founder of Sleep Scotland, said: "You wouldn't dream of letting your child starve at school all day, but most people don't appreciate that being sleep starved can affect your child's behaviour, concentration and ability to learn, and that's not even including the many other health consequences, such as obesity and depression."

In a letter sent to teachers across Scotland, the charity said: "The pilot run in Glasgow confirmed what was already recognised by many teachers and parents alike: teenagers generally suffer from sleep deprivation and therefore struggle to meet their full potential in all areas of their lives.

"Whilst this problem is widely recognised, few parents or teachers feel equipped to deal with the problem. Teenagers themselves see sleep as unimportant when compared to the many activities they enjoy."

Educational consultant Nikki Cameron, who worked on the pilot project and will be taking teachers through the Sound Sleep Teaching Pack, said: "Sleep for young adults is a hugely significant factor in terms of educational achievement and their physical and mental well-being.

"There is more of a problem now than in the past. Teenagers are naturally programmed to sleep after 10pm, and to sleep for nine hours.

"What happens is that their favourite television programme comes on at 11pm, so they'll sit and watch that until midnight, then they may sit and play computer games. One of the things we all do is say: 'I'll catch up later on, or at the weekend', but that's one of the worst things a child can do, because it disrupts their sleep pattern."One 15-year-old involved in the pilot scheme said: "I went to my bed at ten-ish rather than 11. I wasn't sleeping in French, as I usually do, so my French teacher is pleased anyway."