Simply Healthy Schools

Sleep. Who needs it!

Newborn babies find it easy. Infants sometimes find it daunting. Teenagers are convinced they don’t need it. Adults want it but frequently don’t have the time for it. Seniors have time for it but often can’t achieve it. Yet it’s a simple fact that whatever your age, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways of staying happy and healthy. It’s just as important as a good diet and regular exercise. That’s why, to coincide with World Sleep Day on 18 March 2011, Philips is adding a Sleep Module to its SimplyHealthy@Schools program. The module’s message couldn’t be simpler – children who sleep well grow healthy.


Time for sleep

As the pace of life increases and we pack more into each day, our sleep patterns have suffered. In fact, poor sleep quality is now considered to be pandemic throughout the world. That makes teaching children about the importance of a good night’s sleep particularly important, because sleep patterns acquired in childhood often feed through into adulthood.  For example, recent research suggests that poor sleep patterns during childhood can delay children’s physical and mental growth, make them more prone to infections and lead to childhood and adult obesity.


So what is a good night’s sleep? Well the answer depends on how old you are. For example, newborn babies rarely sleep through the night, typically waking at least once for a feed. In the course of an average day they’ll typically sleep for a total of around 16 hours. As they grow, the amount of sleep they need each day progressively falls from between 11 and 13 hours during their pre-school years to 8 to 10 hours in adolescence.  However, as any experienced parent knows, convincing a teenager that they should go to bed at 10 pm to wake bright and breezy for the next day at 8 am is wishful thinking. The majority of teenagers are far too convinced that there are more exciting things to do in life than sleep! During adulthood, most of us need between seven and nine hours.


Quality and quantity

It’s not just how long you sleep that matters. The quality of your sleep is just as important. Every night you need to go through several stages of sleep – falling peacefully into a deep sleep and periodically returning to so-called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep before entering another period of deep sleep or waking up. During REM sleep your brain is quite active, which is believed to be due to the brain consolidating recently learned information and transferring it into long-term memory. That’s one of the reasons why the right type of sleep, as well as the right amount of sleep, is so important for school children.



If you’re going to impress the importance of sleep quality on children before those difficult teenage years, the 8 to 12 year age range targeted by Philips’ SimplyHealthy@Schools program is the right time to do it. That’s why Philips has added high quality sleep to the hidden powers that the children have to discover in order to make the program’s Healthy Heroes fit and healthy.


The SimplyHealthy@Schools Sleep Module was developed in collaboration with leading sleep researcher Dr Sarah Blunden, Founder and Director of the Paediatric Sleep Clinic and the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep™ (ACES). In addition to helping children understand why sleep is so important, the module’s assignments also allow the children to identify bad habits that might prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep, such as reading under the bedclothes until late or eating the wrong type of food close to bedtime. Through play acting, they learn to recognize someone who is sleeping peacefully or someone whose sleep is constantly disturbed. There’s even a session on relaxation therapy.


Classroom Assignments – Classroom Assignments – Sleep

Teachers Guide and Solutions – Healthy Heroes

The module was launched to coincide with World Sleep Day 2011 on March 18, with the material being published on and the websites of the World Association of Sleep Medicine(WASM) and the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep™(ACES).