The Sleep Epidemic

Insufficient sleep is a widespread issue that is visible across varying age groups, and with a boom of tech-savvy youngsters, it’s not surprising the most affected age group are teenagers. According to “Age 14-15 seems to be a big turning point for sleep deprivation, a year when teens experience the greatest drop in hours of sleep per night.” I strongly believe that as teachers, we can significantly contribute to decreasing these alarming statistics, and assist young people to understand the implications that lack of sleep can have on their education, but more importantly, their health and wellbeing. Below are my top 5 tips for raising awareness about the importance of sleep and helping students implement better sleep habits.

1. Open up a dialogue.

It can be frustrating when you have planned the most engaging lesson, but you have that one student whose eyes can’t stay open. Calling that student out, may give them a moment of pressure, but it isn’t fixing what may be a more deeply rooted issue. Asking a student to stay behind after class, asking if they are ok, and expressing your concerns, is more likely to help you understand their situation, which will naturally allow you to help them more effectively.

2. PSHE and education around sleep.

The PSHE association has dedicated a whole section of their curriculum to ‘healthy lifestyles’, this includes lesson plans and resources around the importance of sleep. Informing students about the effects of sleep and strategies on getting better or more sleep, is certainly a key way to raise awareness and promote implementation.

3. Communication with parents or guardians.

We can’t control a student’s home environment, but now with many children and young people having portable devices or electronics in their bedroom, it is not uncommon for parents to be unaware of how late their child is staying up until. Having a supportive communication with a parent or guardian, could definitely help the student adopt healthier routines and habits at home.

4. Sleep Reflection

We live in a fast paced world that is full of distractions. It’s only when we sit down and really reflect, that we might notice that some of our habits are self sabotaging. Terms such as “pulling an all-nighter”, are not uncommon amongst student groups, and it’s almost as if this approach to homework and essay submission has become normalised. To help your students reflect on their sleep and implement better habits, we created The Sleep Journal, click here for more information.

5. Moments of Multimedia

We may cover a sleep lesson in PSHE, but it’s important that we reinforce the ideas from the lesson, throughout the school year. This can be done in the form of a display board, an article in the school newspaper, and using short explainer videos that can open up a dialogue during homeroom time.

Do you think you’re doing enough to help sleepy students? Do you have any other strategies that may help other teachers with their students? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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