I decided to spend some time looking into this issue of sleep and have found some really interesting stuff. Nothing much to help with Milly, but plenty of information about older kids. The Sleep Council has coined the term ‘junk sleep’ to describe the type of sleep that most of today’s teenagers grab. That is, teenagers who are up so late surfing the net, playing games and listening to music that they only drop off in the early hours. 

Note to self – my kids are NEVER going to have a tele, computer or video games in their bedrooms. If watching ‘Lady and the Tramp’ gives Milly nightmares, then I dread to think what effect ‘Return of the Phantom Psychopath VI’ might have.

Way back when I was still teaching French – it feels now as if it was around the time of the dinosaurs (there were certainly one or two to be found in the staffroom) – I just thought that some teenagers are difficult to motivate and that I needed to make my lessons more interesting to captivate them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. There were days when I could have pulled on a pair of silver flares and danced to ‘Voulez vous’ on my desk and they still wouldn’t have looked up from their text books to repeat ‘j’aime danser’.

I’m now thinking that perhaps a whole school approach would have been better – and I don’t mean that all staff should have been encouraged to dance to Abba, or any other music for that matter. What I mean is that perhaps we could have spoken to the parents of the least responsive and sleepiest kids and discovered what sort of gadgets they had in their rooms. Then coming up with an agreement with the kids and their parents about the time at which they have to turn them off and get some kip. And how about actually getting in there and confiscating the gadgets if they continue to come to school sleepy?

Is that too outrageous, or would some parents perhaps be glad for the school’s help in dealing with something that has got out of hand and that they can no longer control? I wonder how many bedrooms a headteacher would have to raid before the kids got the message that it was serious? Would schools have whole stock cupboards full of confiscated televisions and stereos? And what would a child have to do to ‘earn’ back their gadgets?