The importance of sleep

One thing that is often commented on by staff and students alike is that they sleep better during the holidays. I suppose this isn’t entirely unexpected, but a lack of sleep has significant effects on performance and I know that sleep can be elusive for some. As we embark on Term 3 and focus on supporting our students to learn as effectively as they can, I thought that now might be a good time to consider the importance of sleep. I write this article as I am preparing and packing for a night at this week’s Year 12 camp and although I have looked forward to the experience for some time, I have to admit that the prospect of a lack of sleep has left me wondering how effective I will be at work the next day!

Glen Gerryn recently cited a study from the University of Queensland which found that many Australian teenagers are getting far less sleep than the suggested 8-10 hours. This means they are probably less able to regulate their emotions, more moody and less able to think and learn. He believes that distractions from their devices and the desire to boast about staying up late could be having unwanted effects. Click here to read his 10 tips on how to be a world-class sleeper and feel free to share his ideas with your children.

There are many crucial aspects of students’ life that are affected by not having enough rest and sleep, including mental health. Studies have shown that a lack of good quality sleep is linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and stress, which makes developing emotional resilience and coping mechanisms a real challenge. Sleep is also vital for memory consolidation and cognitive functions (learning!) – yet again, a good reason for us to encourage good sleep habits in our children.

So – as I pack my sleeping bag, woolly hat and hot water bottle ready to brave a night in a different bed at camp tonight, I shall take a copy of the professional reading matter that I have been putting off tackling and hope that perhaps it will send me to sleep in my cabin.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris