This page has links to items, that come from a range of sources, and look at a number of issues related to sleep and young people.

The Schools Health Education Unit have been collecting school data since 1977. The chart above shows responses, from 12-15 year olds, to the question,"How many hours sleep did you get last night?"

Following publication of their report, Young People into 2012 some of the media reported that:
“ Many teenagers do not believe they are getting enough sleep to remain alert at school and stay healthy, research suggests. It reveals girls are more concerned about their sleeping habits than boys, and that youngsters are more likely to say they are not getting enough as they get older. More than one in four 14 and 15-year-old girls (28%), and just over a fifth of boys of the same age (22%) do not think they sleep enough to concentrate on their studies, according to the Schools Health Education Unit. Their findings, drawn from surveys of thousands of schoolchildren aged from 10 to 15, show that fewer 12 and 13-year-olds (Year 8) are concerned about lack of sleep affecting their classwork. A fifth (20%) of Year 8 girls, and 16% of boys said that the amount of sleep they normally get is not enough for them to stay alert and concentrate on lessons. The research shows the proportions of youngsters who are concerned about the impact lack of sleep has on their health, with 17% of 12 and 13-year-old boys and the same number of girls saying they don't think get enough to stay healthy. This rose to 22% among 14 and 15-year-old boys (Year 10) and 27% of girls of the same age. Overall, 80% of Year 8 boys and 78% of Year 8 girls said that they get eight hours or more sleep a night, this fell 65% for Year 10 boys and girls.” (Press Association, 2012).

Research by Warwick Medical School has found that sleep deprivation is associated with an almost a two-fold increased risk of being obese for both children and adults. The research reviewed current evidence in over 28,000 children and 15,000 adults. The research also suggests that those who sleep less have a greater increase in body mass index and waist circumference over time. These trends are detectable in adults as well as in children as young as 5 years.

How do schools manage students with a lack of sleep? In September 2007, about 300 pupils aged between 14 and 18 at Hugh Christie Technology College in Kent, started school three days a week at 11.30am and finishing at 5.30pm. The Headteacher said, "Their (the pupils’) punctuality and attendance has improved, their questioning and answering is better because they are more alert and the pace of lessons is often much quicker," (Guardian, 2009).
Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside in the UK has worked with Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Brasenose College, Oxford University, on teenagers’ body-rhythms. Pupils have been given cognitive tests at different times to replicate larger- scale studies carried out in Germany, Canada and America. The study discovered about a 10 per cent improvement in pupil performance in the afternoon compared to the morning. An 11am school start was being considered (Gems Education, 2012).

Further links


SLEEP search on SHEU website



Comments about SHEU

"The data from the 2018/19 survey is still in heavy use here, the physical activity related findings were pivotal in changing the relevant strategy recently to target less active groups like girls towards the end of secondary school, and I’ve three fairly hefty jobs on the to-do list that will use the data with other sources to identify target schools for mental health and physical activity projects, and another looking at community safety. I call it the gift that keeps giving and that certainly seems to be the case!"

Senior Public Health Specialist (Intelligence)

"Please send an additional copy of our report - it is the most requested and borrowed item in the whole library." Health Promotion Unit

Health Promotion Unit

I would just like to say thank you very much to Angela, yourself and all of the SHEU team for making the [survey] so successful. The survey has been well received and we are using data in new ways to help support work on local Public Health priorities.

Senior Public Health Specialist

"The Unit has a unique historical and contemporary archive of young people." Prof. Ted Wragg 1938-2005

Prof Ted Wragg, 1938-2005

"I would like to say that this survey was very useful and made me realise things about PE and health that I had never realised before......Food at school is groovy, especially if your school does Jamie Olivers School Dinners. Viva apples and thanks for the survey." Female pupil, 13 yrs old

Female pupil, 13yrs

"You and the team have the evidence to show how young people's behaviour has or hasn't changed over time." 
Tribute from a Health Education Co-ordinator to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Education Co-ordinator

"You have made a fantastic contribution to children’s health education and promotion. I am personally grateful to you for helping to kickstart my research career." Prof. Neil Armstrong tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Prof Neil Armstrong

"The children found the survey very interesting and enjoyed doing it." Class Teacher

Class teacher

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work regarding writing and compiling the sex education survey. The survey was well executed and the schools have found their individual reports very helpful. The results of the survey have enabled the Local Campaign Group to justify the need for young men's campaigns and given us invaluable insight as to the thoughts and experiences of this target group."

Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Manager

"...the most comprehensive health education survey."

Daily Telegraph