Sleep Council spokesperson Jessica Alexander and agony aunt, grandmother and great grandmother Denise Robertson talk about the Generation Sleep Gap.

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The Sleep Council low-res-pic-300x234 The Generation Sleep Gap  We’ve looked at the sleeping habits of today’s Jubilee Generation children against their Coronation Generation grandparents and the results were amazing!

We found today’s children go to bed later, eat later and prefer playing in to playing out, compared to kids back in 1952, and it is having a huge effect on their ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Did you know, for instance, that today’s seven to 14-year-old children go to bed almost 40 minutes later than their grandparents did? They are also much more likely to snack on crisps and fizzy drinks before bedtime than their grandparents who had cups of tea or milky drinks. But, on the plus side, kids in 2012 are more likely to sleep on a new bed in a room of their own.

And TV agony aunt and grandmother/ great grandmother Denise Robertson even commented on our results to say: “Modern lifestyles could be having a seriously detrimental effect on children’s’ ability to get a good night’s sleep.

“Today’s youngsters get a lot less fresh air and exercise than their grandparents did and that alone will have a significant effect. But when you add in the impact of staying up late chatting online, televisions in bedrooms and all the convenience food, fizzy drinks and additives that our youngsters are consuming, it begins to go against best practice for good sleep.”

It’s not surprising that the grandparents questioned said when they were children 21% would spend more than three hours playing outside on the average school day, compares to the 28% who said their grandchildren now spend less than 30 minutes playing outside on the average school day.

With all that exercise, it’s no wonder kids were ready for bed. 24% of grandparents went to bed on a school night between 7 – 7.30pm whereas 20% of children these days go to bed between 8.30 – 9pm.

However one good thing about 2012 kids is that almost three quarters of children now have their own bedroom and 78% have a new mattress whereas 36% of grandparents had to share a bedroom and 37% also slept on hand-me-down mattresses/beds. Having a grotty old, hand-me-down mattresses in a room shared with other siblings is not conducive to a perfect sleeping environment!

A good, supportive bed, helps to achieve a good night’s sleep, but it’s also important that today’s children get the right diet, exercise and essential wind-down time before bed to ensure they get a good nine or 10 hours sleep a night.

So while today’s kids have a better bedroom to those in 1952, they need to take a leaf out of their grandparents’ book and get outside to play!

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