Nearly 50 per cent of parents of disabled children have health problems resulting from sleep deprivation, says a new report by the Family Fund.
More than a fifth of parents (22 per cent) also report having relationship problems due to lack of sleep, while 11per cent say they experience tiredness at work.
Sleep problems affect around 80 per cent of disabled children, compared with 25 per cent of non-disabled children.
The research looked at the impact of sleep difficulties on over 2,000 parents and carers raising disabled children across the UK. While over 93 of those surveyed say they are up in the night with their children, nearly a third have not sought professional support for the problem.
The charity spoke to parents about their experiences. One mother, Purabi from Croydon, described caring for her ten-year-old daughter Rhea who has severe cerebral palsy, is tube fed, is ventilated at night, has drug resistant epilepsy resulting in strong seizures throughout the day and night and has other medical issues. Purabi described herself as being too tired to have a life of her own or perform basic tasks like cooking a healthy meal. “I have been so tired some days, I have not felt safe to drive up to Rhea’s appointments, too tired to speak clearly, some days feeling like a zombie”, she said.
According to the charity, parents feel they are often not listened to or believed when they talk about sleep difficulties. Parents also want their concerns to be acted on at an early stage and for regular long-term support to be provided, rather than just a single consultation.
The charity’s report, Tired all the time, can be found at: