Children losing sleep over exams

More than half of 13 and 14-year-olds worry about tests, survey finds

Thousands of pupils query their exam results

Tests and exams are what children worry about most - with children who find it hard to sleep more likely to be stressed, a new survey has shown.

Research from children’s mental health charity Place2Be found that 50 per cent of children said they were worried about taking tests or exams and 42 per cent were worried about not doing well in school.

The survey, carried out to mark Children's mental health week, also revealed a link between a lack of sleep and children’s ability to cope with stress.

It found that 32 per cent of children who got less than nine hours sleep a night felt their worries are getting in the way of school work, compared to 22 per cent of those who slept enough.

And 36 per cent of those who sleep for fewer hours said that they “can’t stop” worrying compared to 28 per cent of those who get the full nine hours.

Most children went to sleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, but around one in five children said it took them up to two hours, with 8 per cent taking over two hours.

Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be, said: “At least three children in every class have a diagnosable mental health issue, and many more worry about everyday concerns from exams to family life.

“Place2Be is supporting teachers and parents with advice on how sensible sleep habits, eating well and exercise help children cope with daily worries.

"However, further research is needed to explore if children are lacking sleep because they worry, or worry because they aren’t getting enough sleep.”

The survey of 1,155 children in Year 6 and Year 9, found that exam stress was greater among older children with 54 per cent of 13 and 14-year-olds saying they worried about tests compared to 39 per cent of those aged ten and 11.

Other worries included: friendships, which 49 per cent of pupils felt anxious about, their family (42 per cent) and bad things happening in the world (39 per cent).

How they looked was also a concern for 36 per cent of Year 9 pupils and 17 of the younger children surveyed.

The children and young people surveyed said they coped with worries by talking to someone in their family (60 per cent), spending time on their own (49 per cent) or watching TV or films (49 per cent).

The DfE has been contacted for comment. 

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