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Byline: Abbie Wightwick

After two weeks of school summer holidays everyone has adjusted their sleep patterns. The children are going to bed later and getting up later while I'm going to bed later and getting up earlier.

Steve Dube in Carmarthen I'm not sure how this happened but with everyone else in holiday mood it seems churlish to skulk off to bed at 10pm.

So I'm rarely asleep until midnight before being woken again at 6am by seagulls nesting on the roof.

This reminds me what it felt like when the children were babies and sleep was scarce - permanently vacant and occasionally unable to finish sentences.

So I didn't need a new study to tell me that six hours sleep or less a night can seriously affect performance.

But I was surprised when it added that a weekend lie-in doesn't counter the ill-effects of lack of sleep during the week.

Apparently several nights of extra sleep may be needed if you've been burning the candle at both ends.

Study leader Dr David Dinges, a sleep expert at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said that with severe sleep restriction, even a long night's rest isn't enough to catch up and Sunday lie-ins are inadequate.

The children, all of whom burned the candle at both ends for the last month of term, clearly know to stay in bed for a lie-in every day, not just weekends.

When I tiptoe past their bedrooms on my way out each morning I long to get back under a duvet or blow a vuvuzela loudly in their ears.

Still, it is only 8.15am. A recovering teenager I know is lying-in until 2pm.

Perhaps he realises this luxury will only be available for a few more years? Earlier this year a school in England changed its hours to accommodate snoozing teens.

Allowing pupils to start the day an hour later reportedly reduced levels of absenteeism by 8% and persistent absenteeism by 27% at Monkseaton High School, in North Tyneside.

The head teacher said the 10am start could help towards creating "happier, better educated teenagers".

So I won't wake the 12-year-old with a vuvuzela in case it does something awful to her exam results in later years.

Her 12-year-old American pen friend calls this lounging in bed of a morning "sleeping-in".

This is more worthwhile than the British equivalent of snuggling down in a half-sleeping half-waking slumber.

If you sleep in then you sleep longer whereas to lie in means you're awake but not willing to get out of bed yet.

It's unclear which version the American researchers used. I'd ask if I wasn't so tired.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 4, 2010
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