Shedding light on children’s sleeping problems | Letters | Life and style

The current concern about children’s sleep disorders has certainly worsened, but is not new (Health alert over rise in child sleep disorders, 1 October). There has been an NHS children’s sleep clinic in Southampton for more than 20 years.

Current discussions have largely ignored the horrendous stresses facing thousands of families with disabled children. Conditions such as autism, epilepsy, eczema, asthma and cerebral palsy are frequently associated with sleep problems. So families already burdened by daytime demands can lose out at night as well.

An Edinburgh-based charity, Sleep Scotland, has been working effectively in this field for many years, helping families and training sleep counsellors.

Nationally, pressures on the NHS will be great. A network of local services may have to be developed – possibly supported by regional centres of excellence in this field.
Dr Leslie Bartlet
Winchester

We read with interest your story about childhood sleep disorders and the increase in prescriptions for melatonin, the hormone the body produces to prepare us for sleep.

Although the increase in social media use on LED screens is a major issue, the increasing dominance of LED lighting in the home, in schools and for street lighting is also likely to be contributing to insomnia.

Most of the light produced by LED lighting is at exactly the blue wavelength that suppresses melatonin.

Children’s eyes are more transparent to blue light, so more of it reaches their retinas. This will continue to add to the sleeplessness crisis in developed countries if LED lighting becomes more widely used.
Dr John Lincoln and Eleanor Levin
LightAware Trustees

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