PARENTS regularly face a battle to make their children switch off their games consoles and computers and go to bed at night.

Teachers are then faced with exhausted pupils in the classroom each morning because they have not had enough sleep.

Now the Scottish Government is to spend £200,000 on sleep lessons for secondary school pupils who will be taught how to achieve at least nine hours' sleep a night in a bid to boost academic performance.

The cash – £100,000 a year for two years – will be handed to a charity who will give parents, teachers and sixth-formers sleep lessons in a move welcomed by teaching unions.

Recent research at a Scottish high school found one in six pupils falls asleep at their desk every day.

The public money will be given to Sleep Scotland, which has successfully piloted sleep lessons at West Calder High, West Lothian.

Schools in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Lothians, Grampian and the Highlands will now receive sleep lessons, delivered by teachers and sixth-form mentors.

Janet Lindsay, the charity's development manager for Sound Sleep, said: "With the funding, we aim to raise awareness with young people about how important sleep is.

"We will provide sleep lesson packs in order to give schools more guidance, as well as training senior pupils, who can then act as mentors and run lunchtime workshops with younger pupils. We will also get mentors involved in parents' evenings."

Ms Lindsay said children were staying up too late playing on computers and using other new technology.

She added: "Technology is a big problem. Young people do not realise they shouldn't have any technology, such as an X Box, for the hour before they go to sleep, as it tricks their brain into thinking it's still daytime. What they need is a dim, relaxing environment before going to bed.

"Teenagers should aim to get around nine hours sleep a night, but at a recent workshop I found only three children out of 230 had that much sleep a night. Most were getting around five or six, which counts as chronic sleep deprivation.

"Sleep affects the mental wellbeing of children, it affects their mood, and their ability to retain information."

The research at West Calder also found almost half of first years had stayed up until at least 3am on at least two occasions in the previous fortnight.

Two-fifths of them admitted they had stayed up all night twice or more in the same period.

Ms Lindsay added: "Sleep should be taught in all schools. Educating children about the importance of sleep is just as important as teaching about exercise and good nutrition."

Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, welcomed news of the Government funding.

He said: "This is certainly a step forward as it is a really important issue.

"From teaching in schools I was very aware of the problem. I have seen many examples of very able schoolchildren not able to get into a good sleep pattern and it affecting their ability.

"Undoubtedly parents have a role in encouraging children to get a good night's sleep, but I also think we have a responsibility to help young people to get into a good sleep pattern."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Ensuring children and young people sleep properly and get the correct amount of sleep each night is important to their development.

"We expect Sleep Scotland to use a proportion of their funding to work in schools to promote children's Health and Wellbeing, an integral part of Curriculum for Excellence."